Things were going really smoothly… until they weren’t. Looking back, I know exactly how I messed up. I broke my own golden rule – I stopped listening to my child! So I went MIA for a few weeks to sort things out and get back on track.
Things were going so well when I listened to M. When she wanted to play and splash in the water, and we had a blast with our water unit. I listened to M when she wanted to know more about dinosaurs, bones, outer space… and we had so much fun! And then I stopped listening. Why? Because I got ahead of myself. I wanted to form a co-op so M would have a group of kids her age to get together with on a regular basis to do fun learning activities. But I got so caught up in planning for the group that I forgot that the success we had had so far was due to my planning in response to M’s interests.
It’s not that we didn’t have fun. We did – we did some fall themed activities, learned about farms, and played with pumpkins. But M was showing less and less interest in the activities that I was creating. She seemed bored and barely touched most of it.
I had a huge “DUH” moment when we were sitting on the couch together watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (M’s favorite show). We watched the Goofy Babysitter episode, during which Professor VonDrake’s time machine turned Mickey, Minnie, Daisy and Donald into babies, and Goofy had to take care of them until Professor VonDrake could fix the machine.
At the end of the show, M asked to watch it again. We started it from the beginning and watched the exact same episode again.
Then, M collected her stuffed animal friends and proceeded to make a nursery in her playroom so she could babysit them. She carried her old Bumbo seat and tray over to her play kitchen to create a high chair, used a basket and towel to make a crib, laid down her work mat to create a play area, and asked to go upstairs to find some of her old newborn cloth diapers to make a changing table. She played babysitter for the rest of the afternoon. She read stories to the babies, found a rattle to make them laugh, carried Minnie in her doll ring sling, changed diapers, fed the babies, and put them down for naps.
DUH – LISTEN TO THE CHILD!
She wasn’t interested in the transfer activities I created for the past few weeks, but she poured marbles (“ice cubes”) back and forth between the cup in the “freezer” and the baby bottle. She wasn’t interested in using the tweezers or her magnifying glass, but she carefully fastened and unfastened the Velcro diapers, and asked me to teach her which way to twist the lid on the baby bottle to open and close it.
I have to say, it really made me stop and look at what we’ve been doing. Just because a bunch of activities are linked together by a common theme doesn’t mean that they are necessarily meaningful activities. It's the initial interest in the topic that made our other themes successful.
I realized a couple of things – First, I can’t plan as far in advance as I would really like. Sure, it’s convenient for me to be able to look for ideas in advance, but I can’t realistically predict what M will be interested in 3-6 months from now. Second, I need to focus on what’s right for us and not worry about what’s right for anyone else. If we do what’s right for us, we’ll attract the kind of people who are on that same path. If it seems too hard, maybe it just isn’t meant to work out.
So we took a step back. We're regrouping, setting goals, figuring which way to go from here, and getting ready to start up again. I hope you'll stick with us! :)