Saturday, December 24, 2011

what should a 4 year old know?

I love this post from Magical Childhood about what a 4 year old should know. Italics mine. Discovered it as i was searching for ideas for what 'homeschooling' stuff to do with Eliza. We haven't been doing any writing practices lately and i have started it again today. Thought i gotta do do something more structured to do in the day but then again... ;)

  1. "She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.  Eliza asks me now and then, "Do you love me?" to which i always answer "I will always love you, even when i am upset with you"
  2. He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn't feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up. Time to learn these...socializing, especially who to talk to and who not to cos people are quite friendly here. 
  3. She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs. Eliza definitely does, she's the cheeky one, always trying to be funny. Though i think nursery school and people around do make her conform to how she should colour things. 
  4. He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he'll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud. a 4 year old play is so spontaneous, she'll play and burst into song, hear a song and dance... we taught her numbers while she climbs up the steps at home and at the overhead bridge. 
  5. She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she's wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it's just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that-- way more worthy. She sure does have lots of time to do so! Not too much shopping and she wont be so dull. ;) Else she'll be making jumping parties for her stuffed friends, Lego cities, play house, cooking, playdoh food, sand food, water play. For one, she isn't the most outdoorsy-get-into-the-mud kinda kid. 

But more important, here's what parents need to know.

  1. That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra. This is really not easy especially when I compare the things some other kids Eliza's age can do. Ignorance is bliss eh? But i also know that she'll find her ways to do these things in her pace...mummy must encourage and yet let her find her pace. 
  2. That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books. I gave up on flash cards...too tedious and boring. But i want to read more to Eliza, more than i do now. We read every night and i want to read more books in the daytime too. I want to talk to her more, listen to her more. 
  3. That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children "advantages" that we're giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood. Somehow if Eliza was still in SG, she'll be learning in leaps and bounds with the other kids, stuff i won't be teaching her at home. I don't find that she's stressed by it in a way but she's a lot more carefree at home now though. Storytelling time at the library is an exciting time even though it's such a simple activity. 
  4. That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children's toys and they wouldn't be missed, but some things are important-- building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too-- to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it's absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit. I don't really like getting toys for Eliza unless it has 'expandable use' like the Lego. My in-laws buys lots more and particularly those electronic ones with sounds and music. I do find that it gets played a while and then no more...while some toys get 'transformed' by her into something else to play with. Oh..Eliza's craft? it's just too exciting and profound...i need her to explain it to me to understand what she's making! haha. She loves helping me pour flour/sugar etc, kneading bread (when i do make any dough!). But i can't stand the mess...she did have a phase of tearing papers into tiny pieces and throwing them happily like confetti or using them as pretend food or presents etc. Books are never enough! And different books have different seasons, she'll choose the same book for many nights till another better one comes along. 
  5. That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That's not okay! Our children don't need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They do. I've always read that it's the quantity time and not the quality time that matters. Of course with two kids and a house to manage without help, it's not like you can spend 12hours with your 4yr old all the time. And Eliza will always welcome my participation in her imaginative play any day, cos i'll listen to her stories, and put new ideas about how her play can go. I love my bedtimes with her and i'm trying not to rush it; cos i'm afraid Emily will wake and i have to go settle her and leave Eliza or that she really needs to sleep cos she's tired, just a little more to chat is always nice. Today her stuffed tiger said its teeth hurt cos it bit me and i don't taste good. hahaa....

    They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they're a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them. "

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