Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fall Fun

Spantaneous leaf-raking turned into a circus act with mom =)

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Another view of the launch into the leaf pile.

Boys at Play

One unexpected joy I have as a parent is watching my kids play. Of course, I'm not talking about when they're running around the house and around our small kitchen when I am trying to cook, loudly making weapon and superhero sounds. I'm talking about how much joy it brings me to see them be quietly engaged in their play :)

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From drawing at his deck...

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...to answering the phone at the fire department and then having a two-way conversation with the caller.

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Montessori School Update

At the top of my gratitude list most days is Killian’s Montessori school. I love all the rituals involved with the school that raise his self-confidence and transform him from little boy to confident big kid. I cherish briskly walking behind him in the morning, as he scooters himself to school in the morning. I love how I always now need to remind him to pause to give me a hug before he runs inside the school and down those big elementary-school sized halls (that he was so timid to enter by himself the first couple weeks of school). I love that he is always beaming when he runs up to me after school. He always asks, “Can we go to the park?” And “Did you bring my scooter?” I love the after-school park tradition that has started, hanging out at Clemson Park with other NoDa and Highland Mill and families and getting to know a really great group of parents of kids. After school at the park
(Overwhelmingly for the most part), I love what Killian is learning inside his classroom. To hear how proud he is to tell me that he gave a lesson to another pre-k student and how he gives me lessons as well. He is, of course, learning great academic material (drawing letters), but it is the grace and courtesy he exudes when giving me a lesson that makes me so happy for him, whether it is how to draw an ant colony, or write the letter P. His enthusiasm is growing as he explores new things. Last night he read a comic book for the first time (he brought it home from the school library), and also wanted to read a scientific book about the universe, followed by his old favorites, Curious George and Cinderella.

He brought a comic book home from the school library... He is turning into such a BIG KID before my eyes. And after he read the comic book, he wanted me to read him Cinderella. Phew.
There is one aspect of his school that has given Mike and I pause, and we’re not thrilled about it, but we’re hoping is small in the grand scheme of things. His teacher (or school) uses a rewards-based system. I realize this is a very normal for schools, but it wasn’t really until we heard Killian talk about it, that we realized how foreign this system is for us and for him. Each student has a “good behavior” punch card and when all the holes are punched, they get a prize.

We’ve spent the last few years trying to figure out and implement positive discipline at home and most of that effort has been focused on figuring out how to best discipline (teach) without being either permissive or punitive, focusing on solutions instead of punishment, and communication and problem solving skills. The discipline side of positive discipline. There is another aspect of positive discipline that I don’t think of often, which is using encouragement instead of rewards. Mike and I have both needed to put a lot of effort into disciplining without being overtly punitive, but not focusing on rewarding has come pretty natural. We were able to get through potty training using any bribery techniques or rewarding with treats, and honestly, the whole concept of rewards just feels weird to me. (Plus the research that shows providing external rewards can detract from a child’s internal motivation to do good or to accomplish things for themselves.)

So it was a bit disconcerting when Killian has been saying recently, “Mick, I’m going to give you a prize for being so good” and other talk of “if you do that, I will give you this.”

I’m glad it is leading to positive interactions with his brother, but I do like to remind him that prizes are something they might do at school, but we don’t use them at home, and when we do nice things for ourself or other people, it makes us feel good.

But overall, we are so grateful for the school and his teachers. And we're definitely not ready to home-school yet!

Sunday, November 3, 2013