August is "Back to School" Month at The Motherhood Collective. Over the next few weeks, our writers will be sharing their teaching moments, the ways they encourage learning, their thoughts on education or the things THEY are learning as a parent. Even if your child isn't heading back to the classroom in a few weeks, we hope that our thoughts on learning will inspire you. ~TMC ---
I decided to start schooling my son, Gabriel, a few months ago. He was seven months old at the time. I’m a big believer that schooling and educating does not just take place September through June, in a classroom, from 8:00-3:00, once your child turns six years old. I was homeschooled from Kindergarten through high school, and though I’ve always loved the “bookish” side of things. Some of my fondest school memories are the opportunities I had to experiment outside the classroom—to take head knowledge and apply it to everyday tasks (such as baking, sewing, and piano playing).
I was inspired by a post from the blog www.ellekeepsmoving.com. She writes a post about a Montessori Treasure Basket. The Montessori School of Thought is very student-driven, and it seeks to create an environment in which the child is encouraged to discover on his or her own. Some begin school as early as two months! Many say that it’s an approach that fits very easily with what parents already do with their children—provide opportunities for them to discover the world in very sensory ways. Typically, they turn six, and we then expect them to learn through only reading and writing. The Montessori Method has been called the learning of life, because it is an approach that translates so easily into the every day.
Though my husband and I have not yet decided on our approach to schooling, we do like the idea of providing Gabriel with more than the just the flashy-loud-button-pushing toys that you can find at any store. There is nothing wrong with those toys, but we just feel that in an age of technology (i.e. plenty of button-pushing to go around), this will not encourage the same mental development as putting our son in front of a mound of blocks. Or a pile of cardboard boxes. Or a treasure basket.
A treasure basket is simple, and it has provided hours of fun and learning for my son. I merely found a small basket and filled it with sensory objects from around the house. I tried to provide as many textures as possible for him to experience. Remember to only allow things that are safe to place in the mouth. Some ideas include:
--A ball of yarn --Pieces of felt --New sponges --New paint brush --Silver spoon --Scraps of fabric, ribbon, trim, and fringe --Wooden spoon --Silicone Pastry brushes (his favorite by far!) --A sealed jar filled with dry beans
Place the item in front of your child and enjoy watching him or her explore and learn! Voila! First day of school! Be sure to take a picture!
The treasure basket has kind of bled into the desire to let him explore many areas of our house (the safe areas, of course, and always supervised!). I love watching him dip his head into the food cupboard, and reaching way back to grab the box of macaroni, or letting him pull open the drawers in his bedroom and dump all the clothes on the floor (then watch him fill it with his own toys instead). I love to lay him on a blanket outside, and hand him blades of grass, a flower, and a pine cone. Gabriel now loves following me around the house because he knows that I will give him a small part of whatever I am working on. If I’m folding clothes, he sits right in the basket with the clothes all around him, and hands me one at a time, or plays with the buttons on my husband’s shirt, or sits on the bed and unfolds every piece I’ve just set neatly aside (sigh).
There are many ideas you can find online as well. One of my friends put her boy in the tub, dumped flour and raisins all around him, and let him enjoy digging, throwing, and licking the fun, powdery texture.
Check out this website for more ideas: http://www.ellekeepsmoving.com/2012/02/raising-baby-treasure-basket_1501.html
What are some fun sensory activities that you have enjoyed with your child?