Christmas is a time that I look forward to – making memories, continuing with traditions from previous years, special outings, celebrations, events and family times. As I have found every year though, this special time comes with it’s own negatives. The freedom of unstructured days, lack of routine, too many choices, plenty of special events, junk food and late nights (this year coupled with sickness) has predictably resulted in tired, cranky children who are not getting along so well and are not using their free time wisely. What to do??
A new year begins, the celebration cycle eases off and ta da – enter ROUTINE!
- Get the tired children to bed on time (naps and evening)
- Tighten up the choices and start being more directive
- Start menu planning again and stock the freezer with some nutritious meals
- Sort out the activity cupboards, beginning with the toddler and then the older children
- Get highchair time, table time, mat time and room time happening again
- Spring-clean the toy areas and bedrooms with the children – declutter and find places for the new Christmas gifts
- Make a plan and address behaviour issues; set consequences and proactively teach into problem areas
I know from experience that the start of our homeschool year will solve many of these problems very quickly. The children’s days are filled with a balance of structured and unstructured times, responsibilities appropriate for their ages (chores) and a predictable flow of daily activities that allows me to get everything I need to do done in a timely manner as well. Less time together means that the children start to appreciate each other again and everything starts to run so much more smoothly. Life feels easier, the days are happier and we all benefit.
Here is a peek into the newly sorted out activity cupboard for our 2 1/2 year old. We use these activities for table time straight after breakfast for around 30-45 minutes. In that time he will use 3 or 4 of the trays before heading off to room time for around an hour. It takes time, consistency and commitment on your behalf to teach a little boy (or girl) to sit and concentrate but it absolutely can be done. I do not have babies and toddlers who are/were just “naturally” able to sit and concentrate, it took work!
I have posted heaps of ideas for activities that work well for young children who are learning to sit and concentrate. Those pictured above are:
1. Do-a-dot printables with stickers to place inside the dots (or wherever!)
3. Duplo ice-cream making set – a new Christmas gift
4. Textas, pencils and colouring books and paper
5. Potato head parts and playdough
6. A fine motor transferring activity tray (Small rocks, tweezers and a variety of bottles and containers to open, shut and fill)
7. Wedgits – another Christmas gift that I have had on my wish list for a while now. (See photo at top.)
Filed under: Routine and daily activities: structuring your child's day | Tagged: behaviour, highchair activities, home-made Montessori, homeschooling with toddlers, managing large families, Montessori for preschoolers, Montessori style tray activities for toddlers, organisation, routine, table activities |