Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Playing, creating, & relaxing

What a sociable week we're having so far!  DS1 had another friend over to play this morning, so we had no particular plans in place.  After the inevitable hour playing Mario Party 9 on the Wii (which, by the way, is excellent for encouraging strategic thinking), we all had some screen-free time.  DS1 and friend played Star Wars for a while, and then a monopoly game - more strategy and maths skills.  DS2 & 3 had a lovely game of Orchard Toys' excellent Shopping List game, followed by their Bus Stop game.  We love Orchard Toys!  They have a brilliant range of sturdy educational games which the boys love.  After playing for a while the boys made up their own rules, which at one point involved the 'passenger cards' from the Bus Stop game going sledging down a cardboard ramp.  I think it's really important to encourage creativity within games, to let them explore other possibilities - and they certainly had fun!  But guess who'll be searching under the sofa for missing pieces later... ;)
Then - oh happy day - the sun came out, so it was everyone out into the garden to get some fresh air & exercise, hooray :)  (This has to be the wettest drought I've ever known!)
Anyway, once back inside, DS2 had been promised to do some baking, and he chose to make the chocolate party cake from Usborne's Children's Book of Baking Cakes, so we had some fun & messy time together while DS1 built a wooden train track with DS3... (and then we all got to eat the gorgeous cake later - yum!)

We found an excellent TV programme today that had all 3 boys engrossed... Backyard Science, currently showing on Pop, at 5pm & 6.30pm every day.  Apparently the series is based on the Dorling Kindersley books, so I'm going to see if I can hunt some of those down too...
TV has a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to keeping children occupied, but depending on the programme, I think it can be an invaluable resource as a starter to pique a child's interest!  If my children beg me to put on the TV to watch something that is going to stimulate their learning, such as Backyard Science, I'm really happy to go along with that - it's just a matter of time before they start wanting to do the experiments for themselves :)

Today I feel like we're getting into our groove a bit more.  I was talking to hubby about how our days are going, and as I said to him, as long as I don't try to fit into a certain methodology, or feel I have to live up to anyone's expectations, we are doing really well :)  My main aim is to enjoy the time spent with my children, and to discover how best to encourage them in what they want to learn about (with a bit of direction while they find their feet).    One interesting little development has occurred since we stopped school: most mornings Daddy is the first one up, and then one at a time as the boys wake they come and climb into bed with me for a snuggle before we get up.  DS3 is usually there anyway, having made his way in at some point after hubby & I have gone to bed - and now DS1 & 2 have started joining us once Daddy's up as well.  That hardly ever happened before - even in school holidays or weekends - so I think it's a sign of how relaxed the boys (and I) are becoming - and I really enjoy it :)  Apart from some minor jostling over who gets to snuggle next to Mummy (they can usually be persuaded to take it in turns), there are very few arguments - it's just a lovely family time!  I'm hoping it continues at weekends for Daddy to benefit as well - although I don't know if it would work the same as all three boys tend to see Daddy's supine position as an invitation to 'cannonball' onto his tummy - so it would inevitably lose the peaceful aspect & become a bundling session (not so good if Daddy needs a lie-in)... maybe not then :/

And finally, my inspirational quote of the day, from Plato...
"Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Therefore, do not use compulsion, but let early education be rather a sort of amusement, this will better enable you to find out the natural bent of the child."

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