Developing early literacy without throwing huge amounts of money to the marketing man!!!!

Apologies for the very huge and long-winded title but I really want to make a statement about the way the marketing machine is putting too much pressure on our young children to become mini geniuses before they even chance to develop at a  normal child capacity!! Unfortunately these programs that promise to teach your child to read early are not saying what the research says about early child development and how a child best learns.  Tullis (2011) describes the increasing  trend of children preschool age expected to sit down and learn just like those of school age.  Where Ginsburg (2007) states, how play is essential for the overall well-being and development of a child. With all of this in mind I what to give you an inexpensive example of how you can assist your child’s learning without paying  a crap load of money to the marketing beast!!!

  • The book you see below  was purchased for about $12-$15, I bought it a while ago so I can’t remember the exact amount but I know that it was within my budget. I chose this book as my Son enjoys it when we walk to the lake and he can sit on the jetty. Therefore, its crucial to  notice what things your child loves and is interested in.
  • Every night (or most nights) we read this book to him. According to Mem Fox, this is awesome!!!!! Please note that the only cost factor here is the time one. By reading to your child you are creating good connections and strong relationships.
  • The ice-cream container that is in the second picture was for free, as his Grandma bought the ice-cream, my son devoured it and then collected the container after it was cleaned. The intention for collecting it was so he could carry his vast amount of cars without dropping them everywhere. One night when I ran him a bath I put the ice cream container in the bath and instantly my son referred to the toy boat and began reciting the first page. Right there people!!! Right there is literacy event in the life of a young boy!!!!
  • Now I will bring your attention to the towel that is on the floor that cost me nothing except for its initial cost. The towel became the lake and my son retrieved his ice-cream container and proceeded to re-enact the “toy boat”!! Once again, this is a literacy event that shows how my son’s early learning development is indeed progressing.

Please note that within my examples that I’ve given you there is a huge emphasis on play with no pressure to perform. My son has been learning without he even realising it. Please don’t be pressured to believe that if your child is not in a special program then they wont do well in school. This is simply not true as expressed by Almon & Miller (2011)  who point out that in Finland they allow children be children by letting them play and introduce academics  at an appropriate age and yet constantly come out on top for “Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)” .

So it’s time now to take the pressure off and stick it to the marketing man!!!! I suggest play, play and more play!!!!!!

A breakthrough with play!!

This afternoon I feel as though I have had a breakthrough with my son. Usually when he comes home from school the first thing that he wants to do is play either the X box, PSP, or my iphone. I’ve really been thinking what can I do to get him to play meaningfully just like what I have been learning about through my course. I’ve never had an issue with getting other children to play along where I have facilitated a play/craft activity, however, when it comes to my son who has VCFS It seems to be a bit of a challenge.

It sometimes grieves me that he is not like other kids but nevertheless he’s my precious son and I love him and I am certain he can learn to play too. This afternoon we were out in the back yard and I suddenly got inspired  to mark out the shadows on the concrete with some chalk, but then my son said “can you make a road?” the next thing he is getting me to draw our Mazda, an electric train, a cruise boat, the lake, the harbor and all the things that have meaning to him and it went on and on. He even wanted me to draw Curtin university lol!!! He is so interested in my Studies!!

He then started talking about his memories of being on a cruise that was kindly donated to us by Kidswish, recited a book about a little toy boat lost on the lake. It was so exciting for me. Then we went inside and he saw his cars and I suggested that he use them on his road where  he played  outside unsupervised for at least half an hour!!!! The use of language is awesome and exquisite. The concentration and in-depth play was  unbelievable!! Yes he can play and I knew he had it in him but I also knew that I had to do more to release him into it as he does lack some self motivation.

I feel that if I want to be an extraordinary educator  for other children, then I need to dig deeper and be that for my son too. It was a great afternoon and I feel like much was accomplished!!!

Pretend play

This is my son doing pretend play

I know that it may not seem all that remarkable to some

but to me it is awesome!!!

Awesome because finally my Son is starting to use his imagination

in a more, in depth way.

In our culture we view pretend play as important

other cultures view exploring the land and learning how to track footprints as important.

For so long I viewed pretend play as the ultimate way to play

but as I learn more about how different children play  it has opened my eyes

to see that whatever play my son does

whether it is pretend, repetitive,  kicking balls, or imitating his non verbal friend

it is all awesome and no lesson is escaping him

as he continues in a state of play.

You can’t see it very well but the above image is of my son

playing is his cardboard box train that  I made for him.

And below is my Son pretending to be a fisherman!!!!

I had to make a train!!!!

Yesterday when I picked up my child from school I was informed that it was dress up day for book week the following day. I thought that perhaps I wouldn’t have to come up with anything because Zachy never likes to dress up (or so I thought!!) when he pipes up and says “I want to be a train!!”

So that night, I had to whip down to Bunning’s to get a box and with in half an hour I transformed this meaningless cardboard box into a shiny meaningful train!!!!!!

Yay!!! go me!!!!!

It’s so good to see Zachy enjoying his train!!! I am a firm believer that children don’t need a lot of money spent on them to produce fun. Being a community artist for a number of years it has always been my experience that when you give children a cardboard box and allow them to the opportunity to be creative so much fun is to be had!!

A Playgroup Volunteer

I decided to become a volunteer for Playgroup NSW after attending one with my son for a number of years and felt that I wanted to contribute my gift’s and talents to this organisation. I found it really enjoyable running craft for the children that it was my pleasure to extend that and take it to other playgroups.

Creating an art and craft space for children makes me feel fulfilled as I love the imagination and ability that children have to play. When I facilitate these moments I feel like I’m playing an important part of a child development. Whether I’m getting out some paint and allowing the children to be as messy as possible or creating an underwater adventure these activities are a joy.

My other volunteer role is to visit baby clinic’s to promote awareness of Playgroup. I love doing this as I love that collective new baby motherhoodness (is that a word??) and to be honest I love talking in front of a crowd!!! Promoting playgroup is easy for me as I found it to be a valuable resource to me and my child. I also like the idea of encouraging people to get together and be a support for one another.

I can see myself being a happy volunteer for Playgroup NSW for a long time and I feel that it will complement my studies; Bachelor of education in early childhood. So why not check out you’re local playgroup and give it a go? You never know what friendship’s you will make or what friendship’s your child will form.

Breast is best….but what if it’s impossible???

When I was Pregnant it was such an exciting and wonderful time. I did heaps of research about birth and baby’s and I was determined that I was going to be a breast-feeding Mummy. I believed that breast-feeding was the better option and I still do. With all my research under my belt I thought I was as prepared as I could be. However there are some things you can not prepare for no matter how much research you do on a topic.

My mum kept telling me that her milk never came for both her pregnancy’s. That was my first mistake not paying too much attention to what my mum was saying. I was so convinced that I was going to breast feed and that I had not considered the fact that some women don’t get their milk. Looking back I just think, how arrogant was I?

There is a lot of pro breast-feeding out there but it seems very one-sided as the possibility of not even getting milk isn’t even addressed. I was told that the sucking from the baby stimulates the milk production and the more you breast feed the more you would produce.  All those things are true, however what about those women  whose milk just doesn’t arrive?

When my baby arrived I was so geared for breast-feeding that when it didn’t happen I felt like such a failure. For a start my Son was born with a soft cleft palette and didn’t have a good sucking ability. I used the pump and after 20mins all I could muster was 10 mils(this was still after 8 days of trying). This is not a good thing to be faced with just after giving birth!!

If I could do my time again I would have listened to my Mum and perhaps I could have been taking something for my apparent lack of milk. Had my ears been more opened then I would have realized that in history not all women get their milk and that’s where a wet-nurse was used to feed your new-born baby.

Now My eyes are opened and I want to say to those women who are putting themselves under pressure concerning breast-feeding. Yes breast is best but if it doesn’t happen please don’t see your self as a failure, please don’t think you are harming your child if you give them formula. We don’t all fit into the neat little boxes of life, as unexpected moment’s happen and we need to roll with the punches and not get to hurt about it.

To quote a cliche “At the end of the day we all just want what is best for our baby!!!”

Vaccinations….I understand the anxiety!!

Many years ago before I was pregnant I met a crazy lady with poppy out eyes who was passionately against vaccination’s. She captivated  me with her passion and next thing you know I’m sitting in her kitchen listening about the danger’s of child vaccinations.

She made the claim that her daughter became paralyzed after receiving her first needles but helped her get better through organic means. After experiencing her scary situation she then  began her prolific research into the danger’s of vaccinations. It seemed according to her that everything bad from asthma, autism to allergies was due to vaccinations.

Her arguments sounded convincing and she had so much information to back up her claims. I just sat there with an open mind drinking endless cups of tea and gobbled  all the information up.

When it came to finally experiencing pregnancy and of course having my baby I was then faced with the vaccination issue.When it came to the needle time I found myself having a whole lot of anxiety. Through that time I talked to a lot of people about it which only added to my confusion because everyone seems to have a strong opinion on the topic.

I talked to God about it and decided to just trust that whatever decision I made would be the right one. I ended up at the Doctors and burst into tears when the vaccination topic came up and somehow the confusion ceased and I allowed my Son the get his needles. The Doctor was very calm and was able to ease my fears some very sound information.

I have no regrets from allowing my Son to be vaccinated especially after watching 60 minutes last night and that Mum whose tears where flowing because her baby died from whooping-cough.

I don’t want to judge anyone’s choice on this topic, I really just wanted to express my experience.  It’s such an emotionally charged topic and I can see clearly both sides of the story. I should say however, that I think vaccinations are important and if I were to have another child there would be no confusion the next time around.

Just after Mum died

Mum passed away in July 2009 and in the last week of August I was at a shopping center promoting VCFS awareness week. I was not in a good way and had turned up because I’d had everything booked prior to mum’s death.  I had chills all over my body and couldn’t get food down due to reflux brought on by grief.

As I was sitting at a table in the middle of a busy shopping center I was thinking to myself  “what am I doing here?? I really shouldn’t be here I’m a mess”! It was then I saw an image of myself sitting at the table with God beside me whispering to me “your here because you’re a Mum”

When I think of this memory I just want to cry and don’t really know why. I don’t even know why I’m thinking about it now. all I know is that it’s striking me in the heart. I look back at that person and see what a fragile mess I was. Not being able to eat was frightening and feeling like my biggest advocate in the world was gone made me feel afraid.

Soon it will be two years since Mum has gone, perhaps I just miss her?

My Getaway!!

The thought of a getaway with just myself had never occurred to me before. I feel like I’m a happy and calm person in spite of the drama’s that rage about me like a frenzied storm. Recently My Husband and I were challenged to seek out time alone as life with a child who has a disability can be very stressful.

My Husband jumped at the chance and his time away really did have a calming effect on him. His first night away he rang us crying as he missed us but the next night he was fine. (I’ve probably just embarrassed him AGAIN!!)

Even though it wasn’t my turn yet I felt calmer as well. It was really quite easy to deal with my Son and it felt like there was less stress in the house. When Jason came home it was great and you could see how the time apart had greatly benefited everyone in the family.

So now it will be my turn next week and I am so excited about it. I’ve booked a cottage and I have no great plans except to just enjoy the time. I’m looking forward to uninterrupted sleep and the thought that I wont need to get anyone ready for bed and school and all those mummy things one has to do.

I feel a surge of excitement that I never expected to feel. I didn’t think that I needed it, truly I am a coper and I forget that really I must take that time out and recharge.

I reflect on the past six years of our lives and they are full of drama’s that we did not ask for. There has been job loss, bankruptcy, repossession of one car and accident with the other, our child needing surgery, our child being diagnosed with VCFS, my mum getting sick and needing oxygen twenty-four seven and then eventually she passed away.

Through all of these things I have kept my Faith in God and that’s probably why I haven’t had a full breakdown but don’t get me wrong I have had meltdowns and bawled my eyes out here and there.

I really think that this getaway is a gift that I must take, enjoy and come back refreshed and ready to go. I also see it as a vital part of our self-nurturing plan, in order to maintain the longevity required for being a carer of a child who has a disability.

what a load of crap!!!!

I am enraged right now!! I turned on the telly to watch Dr Phil and there is a bullying story of a 14yr old being tattooed by 4 older boys and then the mum of the bully gets on and defends her Son’s actions!! Or blames the media for telling only one side of the story! Outrages!!! Tell me how we can put a stop to bullying when no one wants to bring the bully into accountability??

What’s going on with the world?? This is a frightening situation and where is the justice? Authority has been stripped from teacher’s and the power has been given to children who don’t have years of wisdom to fall back on. These bullies are out of control and what will happen as they grow to be adults without accountability?

What will happen if more of these types of bullying instances continue to happen without justice being administered? Will parents of the victims begin to take justice? Just a question that we need to ask as who likes to see their child being bullied over and over and over again? Let’s look at Casey, the boy who stuck up for himself and when he did he was the one you got into trouble!!!!

This is the frustration that is boiling in the hearts of many. Not only is there frustration but there is heart ache as more victims are choosing to end their lives. It’s no good just talking about “The end to bullying” but action needs to be put into place too. The return of accountability to ones actions and proper authority restored needs to be put in place. When there is an absence of such things then it leaves the gap wide open for victim’s to inflict their own type of justice.

That’s my rant for the day!!!!!