Posted by: angelnorman | August 22, 2007

Practical life has no room for TV

Much of this will sound like insomnia-induced rambling, I’m sure, but since everyone in my house is quietly sleeping, including the dogs, I’m sort of lonely and in need of an ear. Or a set of eyes, in this case. And it’s cool with me if my eyes are the only ones that ever read this. Whatever.

I have a friend we’ll call A (as we slyly point to her blog), and A, for the past year, has been quite obsessed with Montessori principles– which often gets her some undeserved teasing from me. Sorry, A. I’m a jerk sometimes. 😛 Anyways, A has been promoting Montessori schooling and ideas for many months now and I’ve always just sort of heard it but never listened. I’ve read about Montessori, sure. I’ve just never felt inclined to tour a school that is going to charge me more to teach my child than our local college charges for my husband’s education. Right now, it’s all about priorities.

As we inch closer to August 27th though, when I become a college-widow once again for the longest and busiest semester yet, I feel a sense of urgency to re-prioritize and return my focus to Nick. This summer has been all about family time, squeezing in those precious moments together, so that Mike will have something positive to look back on when he’s re-memorizing the periodic table of the elements at 7 pm on a Tuesday night or driving home from having worked all day at 10 pm on a Thursday night. (Yikes!) Gone then will be the days of dinners with one another every night, which has been an asolute staple (I demanded it at the start of the summer. We do not eat unless we eat with each other, even if it IS in front of the television.) And gone will be the tickle fights, the silly stories, the running of errands, and the visits to the Y.

Gone will be our precious Daddy time. Until the weekends.

So what to do with my kid to make the transition as easy as possible? Well, I’m glad you asked. Nicholas has recently become really gung-ho about doing what he wants to do when he wants to do it. Telling him to do anything, from trying to potty to picking up his toys when he’s done playing, has been like pulling teeth. I’m met with screams of “No! I not do it!” until I threaten bedtime/spanking/time-out/no TV. And for Mike it’s even worse, the poor guy. Nick will NOT listen to Mike for anything these days. (Maybe he senses that Daddy will be scarce soon…) Anyways, I think this is a direct result of too much TV. Nick refuses to stop watching it these days. Shows we have never even seen are now MUST HAVES and it’s really annoying when I’m trying to get him to color and all he wants to do is watch Danny Phantom. (Seriously… what is this show even about?)

So I’ve read up on Montessori applications and activities and I’ve decided to approach the issue of the television by replacing it with a more focused activity of this variety. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind him watching TV– as long as it is in moderation and it’s not interfering with our communication or influencing negative behavior on his part. But because he’s been so adamant lately, I thought changing up our routine a bit would calm him down some. Give him some “schooling” of his own. Let him express his individuality while developing his independence. That sort of thing.

Today we tried pouring dry (uncooked) rice from the LEFT CUP to the RIGHT CUP.  The cups were identical and on a wooden tray and the left cup was filled 3/4 full with brown rice. We discussed the rice, which he acted as if he had never seen (he even scrunched up his nose and asked the name of it like, “Rice?”), and then he put his hands in it and said it felt like rocks. I taught him to say it was hard. He also learned the concepts of full and empty. And by the end of the lesson, he could easily pour the left cup’s contents into the right cup without making much mess. If he spilled any, he would let out a little gasp and immediately stop to pick them up. He corrected himself, and that’s a goal of the Montessori teachings. He did this activity for thirty whole minutes. Back and forth. Left to Right. Full to Empty. And I don’t know if this is because afterwards we did crafts and then cooked dinner together, but he was SO well behaved at bedtime tonight. He drifted right off, no fighting about it. Could be a coincidence and it could be because I stimulated his brain, made him think and learn. Who knows?

So now that I know he enjoys it, I’ve made lesson plans for tomorrow. That is what I’ve been doing instead of sleeping tonight. We’re going to explore pouring again, and then spooning the rice from bowl to bowl. And then we’re going to learn to sort buttons by color and shape, and then I’m going to start teaching him to dress himself more and all kinds of other good things. I just know he’ll love the “new” stuff to do.

And I thought I stood no chance against Wow, Wow, Wubbzy! HA! Take that, Nick Jr.

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