Tuesday, February 14, 2012

4 - Making the most of Daddy Time

In our house, daddy time seems to go in spurts, based on what hunting season it is.  I am fortunate that my husband has a job that allows him to be home every day, at a reasonable time.  We eat dinner together every night, and he helps get them to bed.  The boys do those routines well, and it works for everyone.

The weekends can be rather unpredictable, however.  The challenge is when the weather is foul, and my husband has to entertain 3 active boys, without mom.  Snow is a great entertainer, but our winter has been unseasonably warm and muddy.  He doesn't have a problem, when the weather is nice.  He takes them to the playground, takes them fishing, hiking, swimming, and tree climbing; He's in his element.  But when they stay home, inside, they always end up FAR exceeding their TV and video game limits.

Hunting season just ended in January, and my husband spent at least one day every weekend, since November, in the pursuit of ducks.  So, I have some 'me time' headed my way, and I would like to know that they aren't going to spend the entire time I am gone, in front of the TV.

I need activities that meet the following criteria:

  • Not too messy.  My husband is not a fan of messy activities...or perhaps just cleaning up.
  • Doesn't require him to assist the older boys, since our 2 year old often needs more supervision.
  • Physical activity is always a good idea, since I'm talking about 3 young boys, after all.
  • Budget friendly.
My oldest, burning energy at Kingdom of Bounce

Here is what I've come up with:
  • Pick up some oversized cardboard boxes so they can decorate as castles, airplanes, whatever.  Free, from some grocery and big box stores...call around.  Offer the kids markers, crayons, glue sticks and safety scissors, for guaranteed fun.
  • Fresh batteries and flashlights for everyone...puppet shows, flashlight tag, ghost stories in a ...
  • Fort built with blankets and kitchen chairs.  (Also a great way to keep the kids entertained while the floors get washed!)
  • Open gym (We have the Jungle Gym, and Recreation Outlet, locally.  But, some Y's offer day passes, as do some toddler oriented gymnastics facilities and bounce house companies.  Google it!)  Usually a cost for this, but, I'm willing to pay for tired kids!
I'm always looking for more ideas - please share!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

3 - Redshirting boys for Kindergarten

Preschool registration dates are approaching quickly, so whether to send a child to Kindergarten, or keep them in preschool another year, is a hot topic among my circle of moms.  Already having redshirted (a term used in sports for benching a player in order to prolong his eligibility for college sports) my first son, who has a summer birthday, I figured I would do the same for my middle son, who is just 23 months younger.  Of course, that extra month puts him at the beginning of summer, or the end of the school year, depending on the school system.  So, if I redshirt #2, he would be turning 7 at the end of Kindergarten, whereas other children might just be turning 6.  So, I began to doubt my strategy, and turned to the research I had relied on when making the decision for my first son.

Pro's for sending:

  • Save money by not paying for preschool.
  • Older peers modeling good behavior, and academic expectations may help develop the younger child
  • Greater academic growth during the Kindergarten year.

I hesitate to include the link to this article, because I feel it is very biased towards sending children, and makes a persuasive argument, at the expense of unfairly skewing the facts.  For example, the author cites a disadvantage of withholding a child from Kindergarten as losing a precious opportunity to learn, when a child's brain is growing so rapidly.  I agree that a child that is "disadvantaged", in other words, not going to preschool, is losing out by not going to Kindergarten.

What he doesn't consider in this statement, is that the majority of parents who are holding back their children, are providing them with an additional year of preschool.  The people reading his article in the New York Times, are typically not "disadvantaged" households!  My child's preschool offers opportunities for learning that aren't even presented to children until 1st or second grade, such as counting money, telling time, and certain other math and science lessons.  I can't say that all preschools offer these same opportunities, but, I am certain that there are lessons being learned, and that this time isn't just being wasted in the preschool classroom.

He also attempts to persuade the audience by listing off a slew off advantages/disadvantages, with the seemingly harmless word, "may" before his facts.  They convey facts, but the reality is that every fact he states as "may be" could very well be read as "is not".  For example..."Some children, especially boys, are slow to mature emotionally, a process that may be aided by the presence of older children."  Don't insult me with a fact that may or may not be true!  This could just as easily be "Some children, especially boys, are slow to mature emotionally, a process that IS NOT aided by the presence of older children.  You get the idea.

I also have concerns as to how some of the studies he presented, were conducted.  But, he doesn't care to share the sources for those studies.  Interesting.  Since I sold pharmaceuticals, I am very familiar with how studies are done, and how a study can be presented to pursued one way or another.  Good doctors read the studies and form their own opinions, based on how the study was run, how well controlled the control group was, if there was one, and so forth.  I like to form my opinions the same way a skeptical doctor would.

Pro's for redshirting:

So, what to do?  Well, if you are putting some time and consideration into the question, chances are that you will make the right decision for your child.  Even if boys, in general, are better off waiting a year, that doesn't mean that YOUR boy is better off waiting a year.   There will always be exceptions, and you need to know where your child stands both behaviorally, academically, and socially!  If you need more help making that decision, here is a fantastic article with questions you should ask yourself, your school, and your preschool teachers.

And, a few other sources particular to the subject of boys:

If you have an education background, you will appreciate this source, on the gender differences, and teaching:  Girls will be Girls, and Boys will be Boys.

I would recommend the book, Raising Cain, not only for the Kindergarten debate, but as a guide to communicating with your boy throughout his development.  "Girl's behavior becomes the gold standard.  Boy's are treated like defective girls." - Author of Raising Cain