Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Intentional Parenting

We've been thinking A LOT about parenting and how/what we want our children to learn.  I think the best way to phrase it is that we want our parenting to be very intentional.  We want our children to have plenty of playtime and time to learn/explore in the ways that children should.  But we also want to make sure they are learning skills to equip them for life.  One of our biggest issues with the students that we teach/taught is that so many of them lack imagination and problem solving skills.  It really saddens me that these "skills" are nearly lost on an entire generation.  And it makes me incredibly determined to make sure our children are different. 

I've been so impressed by how engaged Hubby is in these conversations and plans for them.  He can be one of the most laid back (in a good way) people I know, but I love to see that he has a lot of opinions when it comes to our precious babies. 

I've started to form a lot of strong opinions on parenting and schooling from the research and thinking I've done lately.  I know I would probably offend some people with my opinions, but I also know that my opinions are just that.  They are mine and you don't have to agree.   

So, what does this mean for our household?

VERY limited TV.  And what the kids do watch is pretty much limited to Sesame Street only lately.  Yes, this means more work for us.  But who said parenting was easy and little work?  This is THE most important "job" we can ever be presented with.  We've replaced tv time with reading and coloring for the most part.

NO computer time while the children are awake.  My kids are so much better behaved when they have my full attention.  Therefore the computer is only for when they are sleeping.  Investing my time in them is far more beneficial than anything I could possibly do on the computer. 

Teaching, guiding, and planning our days.  I want everyday to include unstructured playtime - mostly outside on nice days.  (I mean, come on, kids NEED to be kids.  I think far too many kids have overly planned days - lessons for this, class for that, etc.  Their creativity is being stifled and they aren't able to teach themselves anything.)  I think this time is essential to their personal exploration of the world.  I love watching my kids discover, learn, and find their own interests.  Then I can use their interests to plan activities for us to do.  My kids are only 10 months and 2, so we're not talking super structured activities.  But we have been doing lots of activities like art projects, the library, going to the fire station (Little Man's favorite), going to the park, walks, reading, etc.  Little Man does incredibly well when he gets to take part in some of the plans.  I let him make either/or decisions and then make sure he keeps on track with the choices he made.  I want my children to follow through on their plans.  Some articles I've read lately talk about how difficult it is for today's youth to stick to tasks/activities.  I don't think it's because of an extreme increase in disorders like ADHD.  I think it's because their parents never taught them how to make plans and stick to them. 

I'm also trying to make our everyday activities much more engaging and opportunities to learn.  This means trying to get Little Man to participate more in our grocery shopping (easier said than done with a two year old).  And talking, discussing, and pointing out things more on our runs.  And trying to get Little Man to participate more in our household chores - feeding the dog/cats, putting away his clothes, cleaning up the house, etc.

Now that I see this all written down I realize it sounds like I was being quite the deadbeat mom for awhile.  I don't think I was a complete deadbeat, but I'm just really trying to give it my best to step it up a notch.  We were already doing a lot of these things, but now we're trying to be much more consistent with them.  I think the biggest help in getting me to do that is turning off the tv and putting away the computer.  I realized that when our parents were raising us these weren't quite the distraction they are now.  And I really think there's something to that simplicity. 

So, for the our household, it's back to the basics.  This is week two of these changes and so far I'm loving it.  I feel so much more intune with my children.  We are all so much happier.  And I'm also a lot more exhausted (in a very good way) at the end of the day.  :)  Life is good.