Monday, December 12

learning grumpies

The first two grumpy sessions went by as normal. On her third (very prolonged grumpiness for a 'small' trigger) a tiny bell went off. But that morning, on her 4th big frustration-verging-on-meltdown-but-not-quite-getting-there episode. I realised - ah, something has built up and needs help getting out.

At this age now, 31/2, getting her to release via a tantrum or big cry isn't as easy. Before, simply her own frustration and my own frustration at the situation, got things going nicely. It was fine for her to direct her anger at me to release. But I want her to begin to understand more how having a big cry/scream is what we can do if things have built up to such a level. That having a cry is good and it's not out of anger at me, necessarily.

So I was unsure what to do. She is still young of course.
I asked her if she wanted to cry - NO!!!
I mimicked her angry face, her quivering lip, her stance, feeling her emotions. This helped a little.
I thought of asking her to punch a cushion. This annoyed her. Good. I figured it could work in reverse.

So I took her to a safe place in the kitchen, got down on my knees, and told her to hit the cushion. And kept at it. And it got her angrier and angrier, and she screamed, and finally the tears came out.

I knew there was more, but she wanted a hug and that calmed her down. Perhaps another go if a 'grumpy' comes up.

Then we went upstairs, cuddled under covers, she was better. And she asked to do some reading. So downstairs to fetch the 'big reading book', and then on my way upstairs, BINGO - the grumpy sessions, the pent up emotions... all coincided with her recent huge cognitive leaps in reading! Big leaps, plus little frustrations... of course it was building up.

I'm so glad I can give her this gift - of loving acceptance towards those difficult emotions. A safe place to release.

And after reading, and her being totally relaxed and happy, we chatted about how grumpies want to come out.  
'How can we let them out?' 
'By crying.'
'That's right darling. And then a hug............. I love you so much.'
'I love you too mummy'



Friday, December 9

joy pockets #35

browsing bookshops with English books and notebooks

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hearing her read full sentences
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finding balance, feeling lighter
.
a trip into the capital
.
financial possibilities
.
soup
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new art ideas
.
mama time while she attended a party with daddy
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spiritual chats
.
silence
.



joy pockets

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Tuesday, December 6

learning at home, deciding

I've written virtually nothing on this but felt it about time, and was in a writing mood.

I've not written because it's an almost ridiculous toing-n-froing in my mind. I mean, I come to a complete definite answer...and then switch back. I may be a Libran, but I'm actually incredibly decisive.

Despite having little faith (not, no faith) in the schooling system, I believe more strongly that homeschooling is not for everyone. Not for every parent and not for every child. Despite some very dogmatic believers out there, school can be exactly what your child wants/needs - like it or not.

So, that aside. My dilemma comes not from whether it's right for my child, because I believe in homeschooling. Also, I'm totally open to taking her to school if at some point she desires it and we find a decent school. I won't sacrifice her unique needs her for my theoretical beliefs.

My dilemma centres on my needs. Unlike some homeschoolers, I believe in a whole family approach, not a child-centred one. That means that everyone ought to feel good about the choices. I've read articles and discussions online aiming to induce guilt. Not for me thanks.

However, when I say my needs, it includes her more than that might suggest. I need creativity, space to think, meaningful work (at home), and lots of silence. These are, for me, fundamental to feeling balanced, whole, sane.

I'm also not a crafty hands-on mama. I'm okay with that. My gifts to my child are word related, books, reading, ideas, computer use, languages, discussion. Also compassion and related social awareness. I also provide paints and pencils and lots of paper. I just don't sit there making stuff out of toilet-paper rolls.

And despite being so great at the word stuff, her incessant talking can drive me to distraction. She is a clingy child and until the Husband comes home, has dinner, showers, a cup of coffee and a quick breath after work, and then plays with her and I leave the room, I rarely have 5 straight minutes of silence.

So having a child at home is exactly antagonistic to my needs. It's a combination of that and being rubbish at many activities (or rubbish at wanting to do them). And that we live a little isolated.

I am determined to have her at home until school age (6ish). So that has meant no nursery, preschool, etc. But after that? So many fun things, so much communicating, different view points, that she can engage in.

I do not for one minute believe that school can give her more than I can give her. But I can see how it can provide certain things I'm unwilling to give. I can make toilet-roll puppets, but I'd rather stick a hot fork in my eye.

I can see that for natural mamas, for very hands-on mamas, it's no big deal.

When I'm of the mind that we can do this, I see it's possible if we had clubs, communities, outside activities to attend. Not really possible here (in Montenegro), but possible if we returned to England. But that means an enormous shift of lifestyle. Can we retain the lifestyle we have worked for (out of the rat-race) and live in England? Or do we find a great school, Montessori or something? But that costs too.

And community. Here, she is not only a foreigner, an expat kid, but also the only one of her expat friends who doesn't attend pre-school/school. It won't be long before she becomes aware of that. She is a lone outsider in a tiny outsider community.

Then just a couple of days ago, when she talked like a champion talker, I said to the Mr - school would stifle her. They spend half the time telling kids to be quiet. She has an innate emotional need to talk things out. She might drive me batty, but I never ask her to be quiet (or at least not 99% of the time).

I have also thought that it would be easier as she gets older. After all, an older child can entertain themselves so much more right? I could just be the provider of guidance of which she takes up and does her thing her way. But then I know of at least one mama who found a 7-yr-old at home like returning to toddler days - everything had gone back to bite-sized portions of time.

On days I hear her read and tell stories and do her puzzles while I write or read or crochet, I feel glowing and love that I'll be giving her the gift of homeschooling.

On days she will not stop to breathe for talking, when she clings and clings and refuses to play alone, when I look back and see she did very little other than watch DVDs and read a few books, and I am desperate for a nap for the sake of my health and some silence for the sake of my sanity, and at the end of the day I'm in tears for the lack of both.... I think, no way homeschooling.

You see? Round and round. If nothing else, I wanted to write this out. To have here to read back one day. And of course I've simplified it all for the sake of brevity.

Talk to me mamas.

Friday, December 2

joy pockets #34

A nice week.
I'm taking it easy.



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watching self-directed learning
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thai green curry
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knowing beauty
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hot cocoa weather
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the sun shining in it's Autumn way
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chocolate cookies minutes from the oven
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writing my book
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4hrs of mama time!
.
being of help
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crochet + a chick-flick
.



joy pockets


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And enjoy visiting those ahead of you!

Thursday, December 1

reading round-up

I'm struggling to keep my posts up with her progress!

So, let's see. She learnt the full 42 sounds,

1. s, a, t, i, p, n
2. c/k, e, h, r, m, d
3. g, o, u, l, f, b
4. ai, j, oa, ie, ee, or
5. z, w, ng, v, oo, oo
6. y, x, ch, sh, th, th
7. qu, ou, oi, ue, er, ar

mostly by watching the CBeeBies DVDs. She's still learning to spot group 7 in words though, but we haven't concentrated on that yet. I suppose I better get my act together and print out some words focusing on those sounds.

She reads words such as ship, shop, post, chip, easily.

She wanted to write and really, her motor skills aren't fully developed at only 31/2. So I started her on pre-writing skills:
following a maze
tracing lines, squiggles, zigzags, holding pencil correctly

Then also understanding concepts like, before, between, different from, doesn't match, begins with, ends with, and such, for later understanding what is asked concerning letters in words.

She's played online alphabet and phonic games and listened to songs.

Yesterday she started using a wipe-clean book (love these!) to trace actual letters. She loves doing her 'work', just like mama and tata have work (daddy).



I bought the Jolly Phonics workbooks but, disappointedly, they're geared towards writing rather than reading. I was keeping them for later but she wanted to do them. So today she traced S, and did well but is unable to write her own S yet. I'm a little concerned that she'll get discouraged if unable to write, but she doesn't seem at all put off. I think as long as I give her letters to trace rather than try writing on her own.

Reading Lesson: Teach Your Child to Read in 20 Easy Lessons, arrived a couple of days ago, which is very clearly set out and I recommend. However, she's way passed it already. I thought it was going to be more complex than it is. Very much a starting book. I can make use of the final lessons at least.

In other news... for some reason (possibly hearing others around her speak) she has started to ask, 'what is the Serbian word for x' (daddy's mother-tongue and the language spoken where we live currently). Spanish has taken a bit of a backseat.

She's also enjoying art - painting, colouring, glueing - more than ever.She prefers just to paint splashes of colour rather than actual pictures.