purposeful parenting, part 2: MommyDotEdu

So I’m a goal-oriented mommy.  I think we’ve already established that.  And at the beginning of the summer, I professed that I wanted to be mindful of what I do with my children, ensuring that I help them to develop skills that I think are important and to enjoy a wide range of experiences.  Over the summer, I took some time to ponder what I think is important.  Here’s what I came up with:Kids' Toys and Art

  • Social Skills: All toddlers and preschoolers are in the process of developing their social skills, learning how to get along with others.  The only way to develop these skills is through practice.  I’m committing myself to finding a minimum of one social activity each week (beyond church) to give my kids a chance to interact with other kids and adults.  I’ve decided that I’ll look for free library programs, arrange playdates, and try to participate in a variety of MOMS Club activities to fulfill this goal.
  • Physical Skills: While little ones naturally hone in on activities that help them to develop physically, it certainly can’t hurt for me to provide them with a wide range of opportunities for development, particularly in areas that I note weakness or particular interest.  I’ve made a list of activities that develop either gross- or fine-motor skills, and I plan to pick a skill each week to make a priority for us.
  • Faith Formation: For ‘Love and I, our Christian faith is important to us.  We have already committed to going to church each week as a family, reading our children’s Bible daily at dinnertime, and praying before meals and bed, but I wanted to put more thought into nurturing their faith.  To that end, I’m working on ABC Bible verse coloring pages and plan to continue working through the Catechism for Young Children with them so they know what it is we believe.
  • Social Awareness: As part of their faith formation, I believe it’s important for my kids to learn to think about others, appreciating the diversity of people in the world, knowing a bit about what’s going on in the world, and recognizing their responsibility to care for others.  While some of this global and social awareness is difficult to communicate to kids little enough that they have no concept of any place other than where they live, I can work on the social responsibility aspect.  Our church collects food for the food pantry on an ongoing basis and provides meals for a local homeless shelter; I already have the kids help bring canned goods to church for the food pantry, and I can have them help me bake brownies to supplement the meals for the homeless shelter.  I have the kids help me shop for school supplies to drop off at the Salvation Army, and I’ve been doing Operation Christmas Child and Project Angel Tree for years; I’d like to get the kids more involved in those, though I realize it will be difficult at their ages for them to understand why we’re giving all the cool new stuff away—I’m not quite sure how I’m going to deal with that, but we’ll see…
  • Art and Culture: I want my kids to be exposed to and learn to appreciate the arts and cultural experiences.  I want them to experience live theater (professional and local/school), live music (symphony and local bands in the park), local cultural festivals, and a variety of museums.  Our early bedtime prohibits much of this for now, but I’ll be looking for daytime opportunities this year.  My goal is to try to find one kid-oriented theater production, one kid-friendly museum, and a cultural festival within the next six months, and I think that’s doable.  I also plan to listen to a variety of music, provide a wide range of art supplies, and attempt to cook at least some slim variety of different food types.
  • Science and Nature: One of the drawbacks of school is that it’s hard to do hands-on science with large groups of kids.  Schools find it much easier and cheaper to teach from textbooks or have the teacher demonstrate an experiment while the kids watch and take notes.  I want to encourage my kids to appreciate the world around them and to understand how it works (at some level—mostly through experience and exploration at this age).  Since there’s only the three of them I can provide more hands-on experience than a school can, and I want to do so as much as possible.  I’ve made a long list of science-related activities I think would be fun for preschoolers, and I plan to continue to spend lots of time in the backyard and hiking at local nature preserves.
  • General Academic Information: This is the part most folks seem to be stressing over lately, but I put it at the bottom of my list on purpose.  While I want my kids to be brilliant and all, I think most of what they need to know at this age they’ll pick up on their own.  If there are certain things I think they ought to know, I’ll work them into our life.  Mostly, I plan to read to them as much as I can, taking a visit to the library every week so they can pick out a few fresh books to keep them excited and interested.  Other than that, I plan to talk to my kids, answering their questions and pointing things out to them.  I plan to sing, make silly rhymes, and recite particularly appropriate/memorable poems we’ve learned from our books and magazines.  I plan to discuss my daily activities and involve my kids in everything from cleaning the house to shopping to making meals.  Basically, I plan to live with my kids.  That’s educational, right?

Mommy’s Goals for this Week, Or MommyDotEdu Fall 2012, Week 1:

  • Social: Attend a MOMS Group meeting where the kids can play with other kids and watch Mommy interact.
  • Physical: Give the opportunities to work on climbing (gross motor) and writing (fine motor).
  • Faith: Review the Bible verses and catechism we began memorizing last fall, before I got too pregnant and tired and lazy.
  • Art and Culture: Listen to (and sing/dance along to) a wide variety of music.
  • Science and Nature: Fill up the pool or tub and give the kids things (and let them find their own options) to test to see if they float or sink.  (Who doesn’t like playing in water?)
  • Academic: Read at least 15 minutes per day, find things to count—especially in the teens, since each kid seems to skip a different number in that range.

Please note: This does not mean that I will forbid my children from doing puzzles, riding their bikes, painting, and rolling things down the slide because they don’t happen to be on my weekly goal list.  Nor does it mean that I will duct-tape a pencil to my kid’s hand if he’s not in the mood to work on writing or tie her up and make her dance like a marionette if she’s not feeling the beat.  This is simply my way of giving myself go-to activities for those moments when my kids need distraction and I’m drawing a blank.  It’s also my way of helping myself to notice the work I am doing with my kids on a daily basis anyhow; making a list like this serves to prove to me that I’m making strides with my kids and being deliberate about my parenting, doing the best I can to equip my little folk to be the best they can be.

What have you decided to prioritize in your parenting?

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