It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Planning Ahead

I have a ‘curriculum’ of sorts for the daycare. Each month has a theme. Crafts and activities all relate to the theme in some way. Each month is also supposed to have a colour, a letter or two, and a number as well, but I am not as consistent about these.

January’s theme was (surprise!) “Snow”. February’s will be “Love and My Family”. I don’t talk about it much here because it’s far from the most important thing I do with the children.

I homeschooled my three children for the first four or five years of elementary school (not including kindergarten) without much of a curriculum, either, and when they joined institutional school, they were all three in the top 10% of their class. Each of them had one subject where, at least for a year or so, they were top of the class. Learning is about much more than a column of skills on a checklist somewhere.

Still, a theme does keep my brain involved, it gives some form to my days, and some of the parents just Love It. These are good reasons for a ‘curriculum’ (though you’ll note that none of them really has anything to do with the children). At this age, what they need to learn are non-pedagogical. Colours, numbers, shapes, letters, reading? Not nearly as important as sharing, taking turns, saying ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ — all expressions of caring, consideration, and the dawning awareness that other people have needs too, and that those needs (shocking as this is to some people far older than two years of age) those needs are just as real, and matter just as much — sometimes MORE — than your own.

I know. Boggles the mind.

And that the best way to get your needs met is to communicate them respectfully. Not by shouting or hitting or biting or issuing threats. And yes, a two-year-old can be learning this. I routinely say to children under two, “You may be angry, but you may not [insert inappropriate behaviour].” They don’t get it right away, of course, because it’s a very difficult lesson. All the more reason to start it early!

But a person who knows how to treat others well, who knows how to manage conflict without resorting to threats, manipulation or violence (mental, physical, emotional), that person will succeed in life in a way that someone lacking these skills, no matter how high their IQ or long their list of academic accomplishments, will never manage.

Well. That was one enormous tangent. I sat down intending to talk about my craft plans for next month. But you know what? I hear Lily* stirring, so I need to go soon, and if I don’t post something now, I won’t post anything. So you’re stuck with a dribs-and-drabs, unfocussed post! Some days that’s all that’s possible! πŸ™‚ Maybe I’ll get around to a Valentine-love-family craft-y post on Monday…

(*Yes! Only Lily today! Rory spent last night throwing up, Grace doesn’t come on Fridays, Emily and Tyler have pink-eye, and New Baby is staying home with mommy today. So once Lily is awake, we are GOING OUT! Only one baby? It’s a veritable day off!!! Whee!)

January 28, 2011 - Posted by | daycare, Developmental stuff, socializing | , , ,


  1. Enjoy the day off!

    Comment by Bethany | January 28, 2011 | Reply

  2. I agree whole-heartedly. Reading and numbers are most certainly not the most important things for a human to know. Sure, they can make life a bit easier here and there, but they are luxuries. Things we can do to fill the time and help further our understanding of the world around us.

    People skills ,problem solving, and conflict management are what is at the top of my “list.”

    Looking forward to the Valentine’s craft post. πŸ™‚

    Comment by C. | January 28, 2011 | Reply

  3. Amen to teaching the important skills. But the academic ones are so seductively easy to measure, and institutional schooling is currently obsessed with testing.

    A one-kid day? What fun!

    Comment by katkins | January 28, 2011 | Reply

  4. As a parent, it took me awhile to figure this out, but I definitely agree with you now.

    One thing that made me chuckle – the KG teachers at our public schools visit the city’s preschools to see if the kids are getting ready for KG. I thought, oh, numbers, letters, shapes, colors, etc. Nope. Turns out the things the KG teachers really want kids to learn in preschool (besides all that good sharing and consideration stuff)? The number one things are getting their own coats on and off and being able to go potty by themselves before KG. Everything else was gravy.

    Comment by Sarah | January 28, 2011 | Reply

  5. The theme this month for my son has been manners. To cap off the theme, they had a tea party this week. According to my son the girls got “fancy” dress clothes and the boys got “pretty or handsome” clothes. (Jeffrey’s ensemble was a GIANT green felt hat). They decorated a paper table cloth, made paper flowers to decorate and then had saltines and apple juice in tiny little tea cups. Thankfully they took lots of pictures and sent them home.
    I’m glad that it got it’s own month, but more glad that they push those little social skills everyday. It’s a wonderful thing to watch the lightbulb go on in his brain, see him back down and instead of shouting, ask politely.

    Comment by Dani | January 28, 2011 | Reply

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