Time to be a little honest here. In this space I like to write about our learning adventures at home, the fun times, and the joyous moments with my little ones. But, truth be told, things aren’t always peachy.
In fact, for awhile last year, things were flat out terrible. My busy boys were simply TOO busy. They were constantly into mischief, hurting each other, or generally driving me crazy. I love being home with them, except … well, actually – I didn’t.
I was so frustrated and upset by this. When I had my daughter, I was not in a place in my life where I could choose to stay home with her. Sending her to daycare was so very hard on me. I knew I did not want to have more children until I was in a position of having the option to stay home. So, I waited 8 years before having my boys.
The plan to stay home with them for awhile was exactly that … THE PLAN. What was I to do when I found it was not at all what I expected. It was hard. And had gotten to the point of being miserable.
The thought of returning to work and putting the boys in daycare/school did cross my mind, many times (sometimes many times in the same day … or hour). But I knew I had to give it a better shot.
I did some reading, research, and a whole lot of changing to be in the position I am now. Both boys are still home, still busy, but I am LOVING it. I know this is where I am suppose to be. There is no question. I go to bed at night tired, but fully happy, knowing I am doing exactly what I had wanted to do, and finding pure joy in it.
So what changed?
Well, my attitude for one. I realized this was not going to just be a simple thing. I could not simply wake up and enjoy a day at home with my kids, at least not without a plan.
I came across Oak Meadow (one of the How Wee Learn sponsors) and did quite a bit of reading on their website. The idea of rhythm and routine was amazing.
As a teacher, I know how important a routine is to children, but the idea of rhythm was very new to me.
We have put a lovely rhythm into our days, weeks, months, and even year. It has created peace with my children and myself.
The idea of a rhythm, as understood through Oak Meadow, is very simple. Following nature is a natural thing for humans to do. The rhythm of a day is set out for us with the rising and setting of the sun, the seasons change gradually providing us with a larger rhythm for the year.
The aspect that completely changed my enjoyment at home with my children was the rhythm found within a day. Oak Meadow, among many other things, focuses on the rhythm of active/quiet time and social/personal time.
It makes so much sense when you stop to think about it. I just hadn’t taken the time to stop and think about it … because I didn’t have the time before we started this rhythm!
My boys are very busy (I know I keep saying that, but I think it is very important to know that this idea works for all children). What would generally happen last year, before I knew better, was this: I would seek to tire them out. We would do a busy activity, they would get wound up, so I would move to a busier activity thinking they needed to blow off steam, they still wouldn’t be tired so we would do another busy activity, and so on. The odd thing was, the more busy activities I stacked on top of one another, the busier they seemed to get.
Well, low and behold, that was exactly what was happening.
Oak meadow, through their preschool and kindergarten curriculum, lays out a different way of working with and being with children. A lovely, peaceful way. A way that is very similar to the pattern I have found that has allowed me and my children to find calm and happiness together.
We have quiet times alternating with busier times, together times alternating with alone times. This gives me time in the day on my own, which I was desperately needing.
You can see a sample plan of a day right here on the Oak Meadow website. (Just click on “Preschool”)
Or perhaps you would be interested in purchasing the book, The Heart of Learning.
While the idea of rhythm and routine is certainly not novel, it was something that I had completely over looked. And certainly undervalued in importance.
You have likely noticed me writing about quiet activities lately, like with all of these quiet bin activities. It has truly been a life altering idea for me. We have this lovely rhythm to our day now, which includes outings, activities, loads of free play, quiet time, meal times, family time, one-on-one times … everything we need and want to do, just structured in a rhythmical way.
A little bit of planning can go a very long way with children. I am so happy to have Oak Meadow as a sponsor on How Wee Learn. I hope you take the time to look around their wonderful website. Perhaps it is just what you and your little ones have been needing!
And great news, Oak Meadows annual sale is on now! From May 10-25th you can save big.
I had the chance to ask Oak Meadow a few questions I thought you may be interested in. Here they are:
1. What makes Oak Meadow unique?
Some of our defining characteristics are a focus on the whole child (not just the intellect), a sense of Earth stewardship, the integration of art with all the academic subjects, and a focus on citizenship on both a community and a global level. We also offer a choice of activities in each lesson so that students have many opportunities to explore the material and demonstrate mastery.
2. Could the Oak Meadow Curriculum be used in a home-based preschool setting?
The preschool curriculum can be used in a group setting to support the teacher. Rather than a specific set of lessons, it provides guidance for the learning process. It offers ideas and inspiration about creative play, storytelling, drawing, painting, and more. It also includes information about creating a daily routine that supports the play-based learning process. In conjunction with The Heart of Learning, it is especially useful for teachers who are just starting out.
3. There is a strong focus on rhythm throughout the curriculum – in the days, the weeks,
and through the seasons. Why is this?
Children learn organically, through their bodies and hearts and minds, from every experience they have in the world. Children are very sensitive to the world around them, which surrounds us with rhythms, both natural and social. Daily rhythms of the sun, and monthly rhythms of the moon and seasons are felt in nature, while weekly and yearly rhythms are often part of our social communities in the form of regular activities and annual traditions. There is also a more internal human rhythm in which we experience periods of energy and relaxation, and the alternating needs for social and personal time, expressive and reflective time, active and quiet time. If we can work with these rhythms to support our learning activities, the educational experience is richer and more meaningful. Children gain a strong connection between their inner experience, their community, and the natural world that will nurture and enrich them throughout their lives.