You enter your child’s class. It is a picture of order. Children sitting in circles listening intently to stories, groups of kids bent over tables and diligently shaping play clay, others on the carpet carefully moving cars on mats with roadways marked out. I don’t get it, how does she do it? I’m so strapped with my own. How does she do it with my own and 10 others. Here’s the simple secret way, try it and you’ll be one step ahead of those little feet.
1. Be prepared – Have some toy set up that says ” play with me”. Whether it is a train set sitting on a carpet with the train about to enter the tunnel or lego arranged by colour. Have something arranged that your 3 year old can’t resist. and once he goes for it, don’t distract him, you will have a few minutes to fix that lunch box that you deserve.
2. Change it up – I run into many parents who say they have a virtual toy store in their house and the kids still ask for new toys. Preschool teachers frequently play the ‘swap a bin’ game with a neighbouring class just to get dinosaurs for day instead of farm animals. There you have it – new toys without the cost. Next time you have a bored toddler, swap a bin with a mom you both will feel grateful for it.
3. Make it real – The theories of child development exist for a purpose. Theres a natural reason why kids rather play with pots and pans and empty plastic containers then bowling pins. They see the adults around them using these items and want to experiment too. Take a page from Reggio Emilia theories and surround your child with things you use daily – calculator, fridge magnet, old cell phone, cardboard box, even an old pair of shoes and watch them keep busy for hours.
4. Follow their interest – Today it’s cars, tomorrow it’s the doctor, keep up with their interests. Talk to them about whats their latest favourite and maybe even grab picture books from the library to keep it real. A budding reader starts early, those library books free but carefully chosen will earn you an engrossed (and brainy) toddler.
5. Get signed up for blogs and websites – Teachers had the training but you have the drive. Why should there be chaos at home, it’s the same child after all. Keep it fresh by learning about new activities from blogs and teacher resources websites – there are plenty. Then watch their eyes shine as you make neat holiday crafts and make your own play dough.
These are just a few of the ways you can get that order at home. Takes work and planning like everything else, doesn’t it? But being prepared can fill the time to enable you to get dressed or count down to bedtime. After all you’ve done your best for the most part. When all else fails, you already know you can invite a little friend in on a playdate and watch their eyes light up.