Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Things That Come Out of His Mouth

We all know kids say the darndest things...But sometimes you wonder where the things they say come from.

I do my absolute best to answer any and all questions that Toby asks me, even if I don't really know the answer. Like if he asks how they make cars, I'll say something like "Well, i would imagine that a lot of different people would have to do different jobs...someone has to make all the plastic parts, someone has to sew all the fabric parts, and someone has to mold and make all the metal parts. And then they would have to follow some pretty tricky instructions to put it all together and make it work."
He may not 'understand' everything I say, but he's satisfied that I gave an effort. If I really don't know (Like how exactly they harvest bananas) we'll look it up online or at the library.
It amazes me that he even thinks to ask or say some of the things he does. Some of it is stuff that I've never thought of or questioned.
I think taking the questions seriously encourages conversation and narrative talking with kids. It teaches them to answer clearly when asked something and to elaborate if they can.

A lot of people ask if I'd ever home school, or if we do 'lessons' at home... and no, I don't think homeschooling will work for us, but we do have some really interesting impromptu lessons I guess. I don't sit down with him and say "today we're learning this", but it just all kind of comes out in the course of a day.
We take a walk and name trees and plants. We watch birds at the feeder and count and add and subtract as they come and go. We doodle and draw and I'll point out when a shape looks like a letter or number or symbol, which piques his curiosity and he asks how to write more letters. He helps me bake and cook and we talk about safety and colour and size and fractions. We do yoga or soccer and talk about body parts and balance and strength and energy. We read constantly and he understands phonics and syllables and rhyming words. He's taking piano lessons and within that he's learning sound, rhythm, counting, fractions and co-operation.

Now, seeing all the written out, maybe I shouldn't be questioning where all his questions come from. He's so used to learning that he just wants to know more.
I've been keeping a list over the last few months of things he's asked me or said and I've done my best to answer. Some of the things may not seem significant, but to a four year old who really doesn't 'need' to care about these things, it's pretty impressive that these are the things he comes up with.

-How to they make batteries?
-Do kangaroos have springs inside them?
-What does 'latest invention' mean?
- How do they make metal gates?
- From inside the car, the fireworks sounded like tap dancers.
- How does cold water turn to ice?
- How do they get the skins on bananas?
- What does 'substitute' mean?
- How do they make cars?
- How does the slot at the Library get the books back on the right shelves?
- How can airplanes fly if they don't flap their wings?
- My feet have super powers from all the food I eat.
- There's actually skeletons under there for scientists to find.
- How do you say __________ in French?
- How do they make utensils?

I feel that there is more... 100% there is more... just those are the ones I thought to record.

It blows my mind sometimes to listen to him. It definitely goes to show that kids absorb more than they often let on.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Music Monday

Happy Music Monday!

As I write this, thousands of students and community members across Canada are simultaneously performing Is Somebody Singing to promote awareness for the importance of music education.

Starting in 2005, every first Monday in May has been turned into a celebration of music in Canada that community groups and educators get classes involved in by learning and presenting a 'theme song' that is chosen each year by the Coalition for Music Education.

But why music education? What do kids gain by just...singing?

It may just seem like singing, but the act of making art and music has direct influence on brain development, especially when exposed at a young age. One step further, education in music and the arts and learning to play an instrument has even greater impact on brain development.

Toby has been taking music/piano lessons for about 8 months now through the Music for Young Children program, and while I find it hard to get him to physically practice the piano, the amount of stuff he has learned and remembers is amazing.

Music stimulates long-term memory.
Music teaches patience.
Music teaches confidence.
Music teaches basic math skills through counting, fractions, addition and subtraction.
Music teaches listening.
Music formats the brain to better understand foreign languages.
Music teaches precision.
Music teaches pride in your work.
Music can draw autistic children out of their 'shell' or calm them down.
Music is fun.
Music is joy.

Cutting arts education out of our school curriculum is cutting out an entire method of learning. It would cease to acknowledge that people learn differently and that music and art awakens parts of your brain that are not used otherwise.
Start getting your kids to appreciate music as young as possible. Make it a normal part of your home life.

Sing in the car. Sing in the shower. Sing in the bath. Sing on a walk. Play music while you make dinner. Dance before bed.
'Fill the skies with Music'.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Introverts and Extroverts

Often the initial imagery you get upon hearing the words introverted or extroverted, are that introverts are shy and keep to themselves, and extroverts are friendly and outgoing and go along with anything.

Not that those things aren't true, but it's only a small part of what is really a very complex label.

I keep stumbling across posts online and books talking about the varied levels of what exactly introverts and extroverts are and it's been really eye opening in understanding the way Toby reacts to things and also understanding myself.

An Introvert can be shy, yes, but it has more to do with how you build energy for yourself to make it through the day. Introverts need time alone to think/read/watch tv/write/sleep in order to feel ready to go out into the world.
Extroverts on the other hand need to collect energy from those around them and when they are left alone tend to get agitated and moody. They need to be talking and working and interacting with people to keep up their motivation.

I've always said I was an introvert, which I still believe I am, but I'm also realizing I have many extroverted tendencies. I like discussing things out loud and often need to do this before making a decision. I talk with  my hands. I like being with people and gain from the energy transfer that comes with a hug. I like going out and doing things and seeing new places.
But at the root of it all, I need my time alone. I'll often catch myself leaving the room suddenly while Toby's playing or watching tv. I like plying with Toby but suddenly I'll have a 'No, don't touch me' reaction. I feel like I need my time to just aimlessly scroll through the internet or watch a movie or read before I go to bed. I dread calling people on the phone. I feel exhausted after a day in town, even if we didn't do much.

I've also always said that Toby is an introvert, but am beginning to realize that i think I'm wrong. He certainly has very introverted tendencies; He does not meet people easily and it often takes him close to an hour before he's used to someone's presence. He is smart, but won't volunteer an answer to someone he doesn't really know he knows even if he full-well knows the answer.
But despite all of that, he displays more extroverted characteristics. In familiar company he talks non-stop. Non-Stop. He will follow you from one room to another just to be able to keep telling his story or see what you're doing. He has very little regard for personal space or privacy, from trying to sit on my lap while I'm on the toilet or hanging over the edge of the bath tub while I'm in there, talking the whole time. He has to be busy constantly. When people visit us here he usually has no problem telling them all about the garden, or the playground, or the stream, or his tractor...
And I've tried to let him have alone time to get him used to playing by himself, but usually after a few minutes I come back past the room and he's in a pout in the middle of the floor or he's thrown everything everywhere and says he doesn't want to do anything anymore.

He treads a fine line between needing human interaction and to be busy, to needing an hour long tv break and some alone time. He's this half and half mix that makes it really difficult to read him or predict what will happen.

It's hard being an opposite personality type to your kids. As an introvert, I tend to get frustrated when Toby wont just let me think in silence for a few minutes, or feels the need to treat me as a jungle gym especially when I'm doing yoga. And in turn I'm sure he doesn't understand why he needs to sleep in his own bed and not follow me into the bathroom and not talk when we're listening to other people tell a story.

I leave you with three links with a good summary of these personality types. They've made their way around a few times, but I always love seeing them.

Cartoon on Understanding Introverts

How to Care for Your Introvert

How to Care for Your Extrovert