Frustrations and Fun: Fine Motor Edition

So, real talk time. I wanted to share with you something different this week, as I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only parent that also is dealing with the same frustration as me: I get easily frustrated with my children and their fine motor skills development. There. I said it.

I can even remember when I first started to feel frustrated about this, and it was when my oldest son was an infant just learning how to pick up small bits of foods and Cheerios. For anyone following along or needing a refresher on Child Development, the Benchmarks and Developmental Continuum of Skills is a research-based tool that allows parents and educators to identify where their child is with their learning and meeting developmental milestones.

The thing about Physical Development, in specifics to Fine Motor Skills, is that there are so many factors that are involved in this major part of everyday living skills. Self-feeding, dressing and undressing, using writing materials properly, cutting with scissors, and printing legible letters are just a few of the essential skills that we want our children to master before they start their Primary Education. This is something that can be frustrating for both children and parents, whether or not a child does not have limited abilities in refining and mastery of these skills.

So, what is a parent to do when they’re trying to teach their child a new skill (like cutting with scissors) and not only is the parent feeling frustrated…but their child is too? The short answer is to continue to provide opportunities for your child and students to practice. I know this may seem easier said than done, as I’ve clearly been there before, and am still very much there today with my oldest who gives up tying his own shoes, and for my youngest who wants to cut with scissors so badly but doesn’t quite have the strength or dexterity to cut independently. It’s a frustrating process, but the lessons from Mother Goose Time overlap with so many developmental domains (Yay to research-based methods!) that a child thinks they’re just “designing” a t-shirt via their Creative Arts Lesson, when you as the parent-educator are able to gain a better understanding of how to manipulate materials to best help your child. This in turn becomes fun!

Let’s take a look at an example from this past week with my youngest.

Until just a few months ago, Theo was very hesitant to even hold a crayon or marker, let alone try to make a mark on a piece of paper. He wanted nothing to do with it, even though he frequently observed his older siblings coloring, drawing, and doodling. I even tried a few attempts with hand-over-hand instruction to see if he would open up more and try, after seeing the correlation that putting his crayon on the paper allows the color to appear on the paper. Nope. Not Theo. My stubborn child needed to be ready to do it when he felt like it, regardless of the number of attempts made by me or my husband. And, I’ve got to say that he’s doing pretty well with his grip of writing materials, considering this is an emerging skill for him. I’m excited to see his progress daily and his careful attention when he’s really concentrating on something too.

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After snack (see the evidence on his face?) we came back to the table to add the buttons to his shirt. I assisted him with coloring his buttons, as it’s hard to color an entire image or area when you’re still building up your strength to complete that task. Here too I also started the first threading of the button to the shirt, and after he was able to see that the thread went through the back to the front and back down again, he got the hang of it and pulled the thread through several times before he decided that he’d had enough.

When first looking at the lessons for this week, my defenses went up almost automatically. I knew that I was going to have to be cautious in my suggestions of how he could or should thread the button on the shirt, and I typically want my children to try something independently before automatically doing something for them.

This entire lesson became fun instead of frustrating! While he colored we talked about the types of shirts that he likes to wear, he identified his favorite pajamas “Which mama are and are not shirts…they’re like pajama shirts”, and we talked about buttons on the shirt he wore for family photos, and he remembered that his dada wears shirts with buttons to work every day. IMG_7489

I also wanted to share one more picture from this past week, because I love how versatile the Table Top Math resources are! Theo did better with this during this lesson by separating them out on his own without using the dice. He was able to announce what color each button was before matching it up, and correctly identified the colors on 11 of 13 attempts, which is progress from another observation I’d made earlier in the month. I know that he’s had an opportunity to explore and manipulate the buttons during this lesson, and we can come back again and use the strings that came with the buttons and practice lacing and stringing when he’s getting closer to the mastery of that skill.

In closing, I’d like to say that it’s fine to admit that teaching fine motor skills to children is frustrating. Continue to make the lessons fun, unique, scaffold the material, and don’t give up. Break lessons down into smaller portions if needed, and assist after your child has let you know that they now need some assistance.

With practice, I know my oldest son will tie his shoes on the first attempt. I also know that soon enough, the scissors will all need to be hidden so my youngest son does not cut his hair, clothes, or the bin of My Little Ponies…of the Ponies that Charlotte missed, of course when she went through that faze.

Keep Reading!

Beth

19510309_1588341684509993_3025539560496814781_nAs a Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador, I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest and authentic stories resulting from personal experiences in implementing this curriculum with my children. All opinions and thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

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Learning About Your Child

So, this week during our Homeschool Preschool lessons from Mother Goose Time, there was a lot of learning going on for my trio. More importantly,  I also learned something equally important: my children love to be told stories about each of them. I know I’ve shared their birth stories with them on different occasions etc., but what was so great about our lesson this past week was taking the time to remind them how we’re all alike, and how we’re also different from one another.

Here are some of our highlights from this past week:

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The Teacher Guide provides the blueprint of what we’re doing each day. We got some help with our Creative Arts lesson with Self-Portraits and learning about Pablo Picasso. We did consult one of our Usborne Books  to see if this particular title had more information on Picasso before we headed to the internet. This book does not highlight Picasso or his works, but the children did see other examples of self-portraits.

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My youngest, who just turned three at the end of July. He’s very apprehensive to try new things, and I love that he sat and worked on his self-portrait. We discussed his eye and hair color, what shape he thinks his nose in, and how his face is different than mine and how it’s also the same.

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My oldest and middle really enjoyed seeing the different body designs that could be made using the tangram shapes and shape design mats, which were both provided for Table Top Math. Through this process, I was able to see if my children could use the tangrams to recreate the puzzle pictures. After the puzzles were completed, they took the process one step further to then recreate their own Tangram Bodies by pressing the pieces into Modeling Magic.

After Theo and I worked on Tangram Bodies together, I let him use the Tangrams open-ended to see how he would manipulate materials. By using the Benchmark guide provided to me in the back of my Teacher Lesson book, I was able to document where he is developmentally with Mathematics and Reasoning. Using Benchmark 18.2, he is able to sort objects by one feature, such as size or color. In the pictures above, Theo sorted the tangrams based on their size, and stacked each Tangram based on their size. He was also able to use deductive reasoning skills to tell me which of the shapes were bigger when given two like objects and two different objects. This is Benchmark 19.1

It’s not necessary to consider every move that my children are making when completing these lessons, but from an educational standpoint, I’m able to look at the Benchmark guide and see where my children are excelling at from a developmental standpoint. It’s nice to to jot down a quick note in the back of the guide to compile together in their Childfolio Assessment.

What did you learn this week about your child? I’d love to hear about it!

 

Keep Reading!

Beth

 

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As a Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador, I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest and authentic stories resulting from personal experiences in implementing this curriculum with my children. All opinions and thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

 

Playroom Preschool

My home is quiet for the night, but there is still a buzzing in the air. The buzzing is the excitement that a new school year brings. My oldest son is a second grader this year, my daughter is in Pre-K Plus, and my youngest is starting his first year of Preschool. I knew that this moment was coming…that all of my children would be in school at the same time. I just did not realize how quickly it would happen, and now it’s right here in front of me just like their three backpacks hung on the hooks in the entrance.

My children have always attended a traditional Preschool and Elementary program, and my husband and I have felt that this has been the best fit for them so far with their education. Still…I’ve always had this nagging voice in the back of my head as a reminder that they needed more. I’m embarrassed to say how many things I’ve pinned on Pinterest over the years, with the full intention of doing.all.the.things with my trio.

The desire for me to do more with my children and continue to supplement their education at home has been been a priority for me, but I was always lost and not sure where to begin. I was frustrated by the list of the materials I would need to have on hand to complete a lesson plan, and I had an idea of curricula goals that my children needed to work on, and the developmental benchmarks for their development. But, for me personally, the planning and organization of it all was something that I continued to feel a lot of pressure about.

My children are busy children. They love to spend time outside, getting messy, and working on projects together. Even though they are each in three different developmental phases of their lives, they can agree on most things and play and learn together nicely. I was thrilled when I became introduced to Mother Goose Time, and only wish that I was familiar with and using this curriculum when I was teaching Preschool and providing Early Intervention home-based services!

So, I decided to try it out. I decided to throw my hat into the ring, and was chosen to be a Blog Ambassador! Each month I receive curriculum and everything else that I need to go with the lessons for each week of the month. How great is that? My first box arrived and I was blown away by it! Every month I receive:

The Teacher Toolbag that has the Weekly Teacher Guide, Theme Web, Teacher Newsletter and Activity Calendar, Gathering List, Skills Chart, and a CD with Thematic Music to go with the lessons for that month. What’s so great about Mother Goose Time is that it takes away the guess work of what I need to do! In each Daily Discovery Bag, most of the materials are provided for me. These are learning resources curated for each lesson and put in bags bundled together. Included are Letter and Phonic Concepts, Daily Topic Posters, Math Manipulatives, Logic Games, everything for writing, cutting, and coloring, activities to build on Friendship, Storytelling resources and Books, and even STEAM projects and ideas! Included were also materials to set up my Home Classroom, and can easily be used in any setting-whether home-based or in a traditional Preschool setting.

So, maybe that buzzing that I mentioned earlier isn’t just the excitement that my children have that they’re all starting or back in school. Maybe the buzzing is the excitement coming from me! I’m excited to know that I can continue to facilitate learning with my children at home after their “official” school day has ended. I’ve always felt that as their parent, I am their first teacher. I almost forgot to mention that Mother Goose Time uses Play-Based Research! That’s a HUGE win in my book!

How I plan to utilize the curriculum and plan our daily routine is to have my youngest Homeschool Preschool with me five days a week. He does not attend school on Mondays and Fridays, so those will be our official Homeschool Preschool days where we follow the lessons from Circle Time all the way through the provided lessons each day. Then, on Tuesdays through Thursdays, in the afternoons we’ll do more of a mini-lesson and choose one to three of the daily lessons and do them together. What’s great about the lessons is that I can break them down for my three year old who is still building confidence in learning his colors, letters, and numbers, but with my almost five year old and eight year old, I can also adapt the material for them and make it a bit more challenging to meet their developmental needs. I love the flexibility, and if we have a more relaxed weekend, or they want to do another activity from the week, we can do that again on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

So, let’s take a peek at my Playroom turned Homeroom Preschool!

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Our Playroom turned Preschool Station. I love the windows and the natural sunlight! This space is right off our main living room in our 1920’s home, so I wanted to ensure that it still felt very much a part of the house and to blend together.

This room had a bench that ran the perimeter of the room. We removed that when we tore out the carpeting, and my husband used one of the sections and re-purposed it to make an art and writing station. It’s a great place for homework and Homeschool table-top activities.

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This room had a bench that ran the perimeter of the room. We removed that when we tore out the carpeting, and my husband used one of the sections and re-purposed it to make an art and writing station. It’s a great place for homework and Homeschool table-top activities. This window is also a great space to hang up current artwork.

Thank you for reading! I hope that this helped to give you a little bit of inspiration and maybe some encouragement to think about what it is that your own children and family need. I’m exited to grow with my children this school year, and I know that you’re in the right place if you are considering Mother Goose Time for your own family or education center.

Keep Reading!

Beth

 

 

19510309_1588341684509993_3025539560496814781_nAs a Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador, I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest and authentic stories resulting from personal experiences in implementing this curriculum with my children. All opinions and thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

Exciting News for Heights Happiness!

 

I’m excited to announce that I’ve been selected to be a Blog Ambassador for Mother Goose Time! I’m thrilled to share with you the simple, honest, and straightforward curriculum that I will be implementing this year with my three year old and almost five year old. The materials can also be easily adapted that my eight year old can participate in the activities as well!

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I’ve never really considered that I “homeschooled” my children during their early childhood years, but I guess if I wanted to get right down to it, I’ve tried as much as possible to create for them a rich learning environment full of books, hands on learning experiences, cultural opportunities, and getting messy too with sensory and art activities.  So, In a roundabout way, I guess you could say that I’m a believer that parents really are their child’s first teacher, and if you have busy children like I do-they like to frequently change activities and have a variety of interests.

We’ll be kicking off in just two short days with implementing our curriculum for September, so stay tuned for my next blog on how we set up our learning environment, my first impressions of the Mother Goose Time curriculum box that I received, and our first lesson with this well designed curriculum.

Keep Reading!

Beth

 

As a Mother Goose Time Blog Ambassador, I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest and authentic stories resulting from personal experiences in implementing this curriculum with my children. All opinions and thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.