Monday, June 13, 2011

Home Improvement Week 2: Challenging My Children

This week, I will focus on thoughtfully giving my children opportunities to expand and explore based on their individual interests, characteristics, and developmental stages.

I don't know if you've met Aiden, but it's clear that his Type A personality craves uniformity and predictability. He has an idea of how the world is supposed to work and when someone strays from his vision, meltdowns quite possibly may ensue. He also has a curious and adventurous side that combined with this stubborn, unbending view of how the world works (very firstborn), scares me a little and challenges me a lot.

Evie, though little, is exhibiting many of the same traits as her brother. She is determined and she is fearless. However, she is free of the constraints of space and time. She eats when she wants, wakes up to play when she wants, sleeps whenever she's tired, she leaps from the couch to the floor though she cannot yet walk, crawls behind herds of running, rolling big kids while other babies linger near their moms, and hangs her head from the edge of the bed, all with a certain cavalier dare-devilness. She also craves social interaction and is happiest, and least clingy, when in a group of other babies.

Evie is me... with wings...on fire. Aiden is Dave... with a mustache... and a megaphone. I'm in trouble... big time.

How can I give Evie the opportunities to safely grow and explore; socially, intellectually, and physically, while not limiting Aiden's sense of curiosity and adventure (putting him a situation that will get him into trouble) and providing the structure he craves?

This is where I come back to time and again in my inner homeschooling debate. This is where Aiden's morning preschool comes in. Do I feel that his school is providing the stimulation to fulfill Aiden's desire to expand? No. But, it does give me a chance to spend some time focusing on what Evie needs; playdates with other babies, plenty of time for us to read board books, sing, dance, and for her to crawl, creep, and push her own limits in an environment that is safe for her.

That way, when Aiden comes home from school, I feel completely at ease strapping her in the Ergo or putting her in her high chair with a snack or toys so Aiden and I can do a science experiment, garden, cook, hike, swim, go on a big kid playdate, or whatever else sparks his interest that day. All the while, Evie can watch, listen, talk, and participate when appropriate for her.

So, to put things simply, this week I will focus on providing Evie opportunities to explore and grow in the morning and Aiden in the afternoon.

How do you challenge your children? How do you balance meeting their individual needs and interests?

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