It is the end of February and I managed to disappear from my blog again! We ‘ve had a busy start to our year. In the second week of January we enrolled our 2-year-old Ray into Montessori. For months prior to enrolling him Hubby and I had discussed the idea of preschool. We wanted to put him in Montessori because we had noticed this independent personality he had developed. And the Montessori method of learning was based on free activity in a “prepared environment”. When we visited the school with Ray he naturally assimilated to the classroom environment and observed all the new faces and children.
Little did we know that separation and stranger anxiety happens in toddlers too and not only babies. Much to my surprise the first week of Montessori school went fantastic little Ray kissed Mama goodbye and jetted off to his classroom leaving ME in tears. As I left the school sobbing, a burst of emotions took over me. How could my baby be all grown up already?! He doesn’t need Mama anymore?! I waited at a local coffee shop for forty-five minutes with the cheerful company of my sister and brother in law. Time just wasn’t going by fast enough. As my countdown to pick-up time came to about 10 minutes to go I rushed back to the Montessori and was one of the first moms there to pick up my little boy and he ran into my arms with excitement to show me his classroom.
And then came week two totally unexpected I walked into the school and Ray had hesitated to let go of my hand. The moment I kneeled down for a kiss and goodbye hug I foresaw a major tantrum about to burst out and, lo and behold, as it happened he started crying “No Mama, Stay!” and my heart melted right there however I controlled my emotions and as the teacher instructed I comforted him and let him know I’ll be back soon and I walked away saying good-bye. He ran towards the school window and I could hear him through the glass window screaming, “No, Mama, Stay!” I have to admit I cried A LOT in the car as I drove off. And this persisted for about another 2 weeks. Ray’s personality at home started to change as well. He began to get nervous that I was leaving him for hours again even if I stepped downstairs for a few minutes or went to the bathroom. Something wasn’t right; suddenly my independent two year old was getting separation anxiety. If we had conversations about his teacher or school he would immediately get anxious and say “No, Mama, me crying” and so I figured I was traumatizing him from the school experience and he wasn’t actually enjoying it. And so after about one month Hubby and I decided to take him out of the Montessori school.
I learned that the Montessori method of learning isn’t exactly right for my child. I loved the concept of independent learning and the freedom for the child to choose the activity or station he would like to work in; especially at the age of two since kids at this age don’t have the attention span to sit through structured activities. Being a stay-at-home mom I have the entire day to keep the boys occupied between naps and meals. And so our activities tend to be structured at home. The goal is to try to have a scheduled and structured day but they’re kids and I’m human so not every day is spent following a schedule to a tee. However, Ray thrives on structured activities.
Here are 4 Structured Educational Activities we love to do with the kids:
1.) Coloring Books/Workbooks: We have coloring books and workbooks we’ll spend at least thirty minutes of our day on just working on identifying and coloring basic shapes, fruits, and pictures.
2.) Easel Activities: He loves to pull his easel out to have me draw different shapes so he can guess which shape and then just doodle. He loves to pick a letter and number of the day from his bucket and we work with that specific letter throughout the day. We’ll spot it in a book or somewhere around us and sound it out. And for the number of the day (usually between 1-9) we’ll use our abacus to learn our number or choose that number of gummy bears to eat. We find ways to incorporate the chosen letter or number in our daily activities. This has helped him sound out many of the letters and somewhat identify them (I know, he’s only 2, but if we can learn and have fun at the same time, Why not!?!).
3.) Painting: Some days we will spend at least forty minutes painting where we learn about our colors.
4.) Read Books: We’ll read books and cuddle (cause cuddles are the best!). While reading I keep Ray engaged and ask him questions about the pictures. He loves to flip the pages.
Ray gets plenty of hours in the day for free independent play as well with blocks, magnetic building blocks, abacus counting, dinosaur pretend play, home built obstacle courses with cushions and pillows and so much more! But I know that Ray thrives on structured activities and for that reason he didn’t fit as well into the Montessori school. But every child is different and each child has a unique method of learning. I also understand that I may have pushed him too soon for school, but so many kids his age attend daycare and preschool. We will try going to school again in the Fall when he’s closer to turning three- Until then, here’s to more tantrums, potty-training, and madness right here at home!