I have 2 pet peeves. One is when I tell people I’m a SAHM and they say, “Wah… so good hor. You very freeeee!” (The other pet peev was when I was a teacher and cab drivers in the morning would say, “Wah… so good hor. You very freeee!!!!!! Got holidays, go home at 2 pm.” Zzzz….
So! I decided to share and write a post on some of the things that I do with Kyra at home that gives me some feeling of accomplishment. But seriously, even without these things, just child-minding is not exactly a picture of a carefree, tai-tai lifestyle that SAHMs lead most of the time. I found myself actually dreading the full days I spend with her at home because it just seems to drag on so interminably! I dread the feeling that I’m not spending the time productively enough with her and yet I also don’t really know what to do with her! She is so demanding of my attention and time that I sometimes resort to saying to her, “Mama needs to poo!” *runs and hides in the toilet for 5-10 minutes with my phone or magazine just to enjoy some quiet and solitude*. Terrible right! I know!
With this recurrent fear and dread week after week, I basically got sick of feeling this way. When I feel unaccomplished, I go ahead and write myself *tada!!!* a syllabus!! Generally, a big picture and plan that I’m heading somewhere makes me feel a lot better and more in control. Hence, I created a list of activities for myself to do with her and it does give me great joy and satisfaction to record and see her progress at things that I set out to teach her. This mode of recording and reflection has been extremely helpful at observing what she’s interested in and what she’s ready to learn and I can just go with her rhythm and flow to teach her what she wants to know.
So basically, it’s a very simple excel document that I loaded onto Google Drive. It’s a list of things that I got from my Montessori course and interesting stuff that I cull from other mummies’ homeschool blogs. I’m gonna share the Practical Life excel sheet because I think it’s a good starting point with 2 year-olds and anyone can find these simple, ubiquitous materials in their home to carry out the activities. Don’t worry about the column “Suggested Age”. I just put it there as a guide. Some activities do require the child to be slightly older (give her time to develop her skills or hand-eye coordination) but I find that given the opportunity and practice, the kids can and will be able to pick up the activities!
[To get the file, just click on the link!] https://app.box.com/s/pebyl6wf6cm3nqsevrk2
(I do have other activities from Language, Cultural Life, Math. If you find the Practical Life list of activities useful, drop us a comment or message and I’ll share the rest as well!)
I pick out 1 to 2 activities I want to show her for the day and see if she takes to the activities. I’ll record using my iPhone or iPad (loaded with Google Drive) her reactions, interest level and challenges and see how I can do it better the next time. An example of what kinds of remarks you could observe is in the excel file. (If your child, like mine these days, gets very distracted when there’s an iPhone or iPad around, then keep the gadgets aside and record your observations separately.) Generally, I’ll try to introduce the activity about 3 times (on 3 different days, doesn’t even have to be consecutive days) before giving up and finding something else because I think kids sometimes takes awhile to warm up to an activity. Don’t be too discouraged if your child rejects your activity and prefers to do something else! It happens and it’s perfectly normal! Sometimes, he/she is just not used to this new schedule that you’re trying or he’s just not interested in learning that day. Don’t force it or get stressed up. Just keep the materials away and say cheerfully that we’ll try again another time. If we “do learning” at routine times, the kid will come to expect and even embrace this time of undivided attention she/he has with you.
I do have a rule though. That is if she starts on the activity, she has to at least complete it once and keep it away. I enforce this because I want to teach her to finish what she begins and to pack up her stuff after use. This is really an ongoing struggle and Kyra is still not that perfect kid who packs up her toys of her own accord but this is something I think is important enough to persevere through.
[Kyra doing a sorting activity with colours and numbers. Sometimes these “success” photos give an impression that she did it in 1 try but no!!! It took us about 2 tries just to get her to know what I want her to do and then a few more times on her own to master this activity.]
By sharing this list, it’s not meant to put guilt on full-time working mothers that you can’t complete the whole list or worse, compare who’s doing more, whose kid is more accomplished at a faster rate, at a younger age etc. But really, it’s a general guide, a suggestion to what you can do with your child to
a) feel better about the productive use of your time when with him/her,
b) to teach him/her some skills, hopefully useful at some point in time.
This is NOT the MOE syllabus, to be covered in X years and really, the child will eventually learn all of these things so let’s lighten up and enjoy the process! Yup, hope you have fun with your child! Let him/her take the lead and you’ll discover that he/she is ready to learn many things. You just need to show and guide!
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