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蒙特梭利 活動注音盒 可列印

為了孩子用Livable Montessori 的連結做了活動英文 printable small moveable alphabet之後,因為沒有找到可列印的活動注音,所以在這裡做了檔案,有兩個版本。放在網路上給需要的人使用(按version字可到下載的google drive連結)。

Version 1 / Version 2:

兩個版本差異在字型。因為在看Livable Learning 英文的 printable small moveable alphabet 時讓阿諾選了他喜歡的字體,想說若做中文注音,也可以有選擇。

這個活動注音盒主要用來拼字,對於前置語言建構已經有一定基礎,且還無法寫注音,不過會認單注音(可以用砂紙注音板 or 其他)讀拼一起的注音,的孩子可以開始嘗試的活動。可以用一寫小物品,或圖卡,先做兩個注音、且ㄧ的拼音練習。一開始為了能維持孩子的興趣,用玩玩,鼓勵的心態,是不糾正錯誤的喔!如果孩子沒興趣,可能時機不對,可能帶領的方式提不起興趣…多方權衡一下。

以下我也分享其他地方看到別人做的注音材料:

  • 砂紙注音製作:四個中文媽媽在聖地牙哥的部落格大方分享的檔案, 這個可列印版本是鏡像的,也貼心的做得很省紙!貼砂紙背面剪比較方便。據說要用3M砂紙240號或者油漆行正常砂紙180號,沙子才夠細緻,適合幼嫩的小手描摩。這個砂紙注音,可做起頭音或尾音的小物件盒(剛開始一次擺出最多介紹/擺出兩、三個!不要擺出太多!孩子往往因為太多選擇而反爾不去碰。)砂紙注音我還沒有做,但已經看定用紙博館的藝術色卡,是硬的且色澤飽和,但不是塑膠的所以可能無法忍受風吹日曬。不過我覺得觸感上質感好。
  • 大的活動注音盒Caroll Wang 有推薦這個磁鐵的。我其實很希望找的原木且沒有磁鐵的(可以自己漆的那種),不過磁鐵的好處是可以在垂直面上操作,而幼兒很多有垂直面操作(繪畫,Michaelangelo躺著畫天花板)的肢體需求。(看完這個webinar: Building Fine Motor Skills 才發現幼兒出現“畫牆壁”這樣的行為時,不能說動機是『調皮』,可能身體上有這樣的需求,可以考慮在牆壁上貼紙滿足)
  • 小活動注音盒(就是我提供的檔案)我是用key way 40 格的(格子可以自己活動調整,超方便!)我個人覺得家庭用的用厚一點的卡紙印就好了,畢竟不是開學校好幾屆的學生要用,沒有必要去裱褙。沒有塑膠的重量,至少卡紙比起裱褙來說也比較不滑。

至於教學方式,許多有愛心的前人分享過,我這個中打又慢又辛苦的就不用重新發明輪子來詳述。:)

2017 Jan 21st Knox playing with the home-made small moveable alphabet 阿諾玩英文活動拼音盒:

edit: 感謝文婷老師指點,檔案少了ㄗㄘㄙ,還有自己沒有搞懂一聲,已補上。

I think I know some underachieving verbally gifted children…

Just came across this helpful article to considering motivation for some children in classroom management/design, shared by the Ultimate Montessori Parents Guide:
https://www.verywell.com/underachievement-of-verbally-gifted-children-1448965
Signs of verbally gifted children: higher competency in language than peers, easily acquire language, good ear for sound of languages, good at manipulating symbols (letters), can often be heard ‘playing’ with language. – making jokes with language, experimenting with sound (making nonsense sounds), getting rhymes and poetry quickly…etc.
    Aside from this, very young children also have a sensitive period (Montessori) for language that makes it easier for them to absorb languages.
Takeaways from that article:
   1. Verbally gifted children tend to be holistic learners – they want to see the big picture (why should I learn this?) before getting details esp. cosmic education>
2. Because of need for holistic learning and challenge, tend to see rote memorization as pointless. This will present as saying something is ‘hard’ when they mean that something is ‘boring and uncomfortable to learn – tedious’ (not necessarily beyond the child’s capability, as we adults would define the word ‘hard’).
3. For the sake of challenge (to stay interested), these children will often choose difficult tasks over easy ones at the risk of getting a lower grade. Thus presenting with underachievement.
4. Tend to want to be able to be in charge of their own learning (intrinsically motivated)
     Note: being verbally gifted is only one aspect of a child so one verbally gifted child will appear different in temperament and other capabilities than another child. Something I have noticed about gifted children is that their learning often appears asymmetrical – this includes not being very good at certain things, can sometimes present with behavioral issues (due to asymmetry), and does not necessarily follow learning scope & sequence because some things are ahead of others (such as Montessori found that children can often write before they can read. A gifted child may be ready to learn reading before they are able to write, due to under-developed fine motor that is related to their focused interest on non-fine motor related areas.)
     For example, today I noticed a child in the class I am teaching practice at who, for an almost 4 year old, is showing pretty good mastery of the moveable mandarin alphabet (bopomo), compared to peers. I do not think he has enough control for writing yet but he is definitely good at blending. This is one of the children (most of them tend to be boys!) who at various other times can present with behavioral challenges. Could this because he is undershooting in certain areas? Something to find out!
     Another child I know who I realize is verbally gifted (Has high attention span for being read to compared to peers. Can memorize picture book dialogue upon first being read to. Will make puns with words. Easily find and fills in gaps when reading things that rhyme, likes to find new ways of doing things) – keeps complaining and avoiding language work, will dither when working with language. I believe this is because the way these particular language works are presented with limited scope, and the children have been constrained not to use them in a spontaneous way. However, to teachers to follow clear scope & sequence, this child can seem to have ‘not yet mastered’ more basic concepts, and so can be held back because teachers want them to finish one step successfully before moving on to another. While the child is one who seeks novelty and challenge.
     So I think for this child : 1.material for earlier steps needs to be regularly refreshed so child will be interested in working with ‘old’ concepts in new ways. 2. Occasional bridge work (forays) into more advanced work should be used, and allowed, but not to the point that child is introduced too early and frustrated. 3. Sometimes it is okay to experiment so child can see value of earlier work as foundation. 4. Freedom and opportunity for initiative should be allowed. The need for creativity can be satisfied with other materials/activities if purposeful use needs to be maintained for certain materials.

     It is possible for Montessori schools and teachers to accommodate for the needs of gifted children because the inherent philosophical learning environment design allows individualization. However, it is also possible for Montessori teachers to miss these positive aspects and potentialities of a child’s learning. So I really love all these new studies coming to the fore that explore differentiated learning needs!

shame and growth for the young child – some reflections

I found this in my notebook from September 28th, 2016. I felt this was a good summary (if you can call it that, ha.) of the information I had been accumulating at that time and my synthesis of it regarding creating a positive environment.

In retrospect, I had been a bit harder on Quin due to our experience with her brother. In all fairness, her brother had had more of his needs satisfied as he went from 2 y/o to 3 y/o as, in my hopes of staving off jealousy of his baby sister (Quin), our daily activities were centered around His needs, whilst Quin was largely along for the ride. I was still relatively inexperienced back then with the 2nd child, and as a SAHM, barely having time to myself for reflection, my growth was not as well-rounded as I might have hoped.

I am considering this today due to an observation for assignment that I had conducted, hoping to identify the cause of Quin’s exclusion when a girl who had just turned five comes over to play. In my search concerning the social development of children I came across these passages from Tina Bruce, Carolyn Meggit and J Grenier’s 2010 Child Care and Education:

From 2 to 3 years

  • The child quickly become frustrated – for example, when something does not go well. The child needs a great deal of support from adults (…)

We had speculated that Quin’s personality was coming to the fore when she started throwing tantrums shortly after age two. She was previously a fussy baby but I understood it to be due to indigestion, if not colic, that settled down prior to age one. Often the tantrums were over things perceived out of order, but more often it appeared to be over doing things that she had previously been capable of doing, if not of trying. This was frustrating for me, for I felt that to do things for her would spoil her for doing things for herself. I see now that I had not accessed more specific information regarding her development, for the same textbook mentions:

From 1 to 2 years

  • The toddler loves to do things for him or herself.

As Quin had not yet developed much social interest before, she was content to attempt things driven by her inner guide (Montessori). However, at age two, in between the development of social awareness and drive for independence / autonomy came an awareness of her need for assistance. And when I insisted that she try for herself, she would have a melt down. In retrospect, I feel that I could have been more immediately helpful, as these past few months I have discovered the beautiful side of her personality when we are more supportive of her emotional needs.

This discovery was preceded by a change in my own approach, which (sad to say) came not from the natural maturation of my parenting abilities, but from a crisis in our relationship that arose from MY mistaken approach to her. In this situation, Quin had been, for half a year at least, not wetting her bed and what we considered potty-trained. The bed-wetting then started again. We had her go to potty before bedtime and placed the potty close to her room so she might access it in the night if she needed. We reminded, reasoned and remonstrated. To no avail. The atmosphere in our home was becoming toxic.

And then I read about a Taiwanese mother’s experience with her son’s poop situation, and her detailed use of the Kazdin method. I started preparatory work to apply this method (explain and send reference to husband, buy book on kindle and start reading…) and in my approach I started to change my attitude towards the accidents. We got training pants and when she had an accident we did not emotionally react to the situation, but tried to be supportive. “You can do better next time.”

It particularly struck me at this time how she would : 1. Pretend that it hadn’t happened and insist that it was not wet. 2. Later on, in the process of recovery, look at us very sadly and with some fear when she discovered that she had wet her bed again.

For 1. I realized that it was a protective mechanism. She was lying because she wished it were not true. Having read the article about children and lies beforehand, I understood that children (prior to about 5 or 6 years old, when they begin to be able to fantasize), are not capable of willfully lying. What we thought were lies were actually wishes, and often responses to environmental pressures that they were incapable of resolving. I was sorry that I had put my daughter into such a situation where she had to deny reality in order to cope.

For 2. I saw that she felt shame for having peed her pants. For young children, shame is always an emotion that arises from social referencing – they are learning what is considered unacceptable (lower status behavior) from the reaction of others. While it serves useful for their socialization, our experience proved that it did not help her control her bed wetting. Only served to demoralize her.

Shame is now known as a less effective emotion for behavioral change (growth), particularly for young children. The attendant pressure from shame promotes cortisol, which is shown to inhibit the establishment of neural connections. In converse, dopamine is shown to be effective in helping neural plasticity, which is the ability for the mind to change – learning! It is therefore true that happy children learn best.

While it is possible for some behavioral changes to occur through shame, it is usually more possible through individuals who have better control of themselves, and have a social interest in the matter (ex: teenagers want to fit in). But such a change comes at a cost, a social cost – in giving the individual a sense of inferiority, which predisposes the individual to later ‘bullying’ others in oblique or overt ways in order to regain a sense of self-esteem.

I personally believe shame as an incentive also has costs in preventing someone to fulfill their full potential in development and learning, so that the individual presents with an inferior sensibility. I am inclined to believe this in my observation of cultures (or meta-cultures within larger cultures, such as individual family units) where shame is used as the main tool to inspire behavioral change. The children present as disoriented, or lacking initiative, often frivolous and inefficient, and appear to express below the intellectual capacity of their age group.

When such is removed, the rebound is impressive for young children, as I had observed when I changed my own reaction to Quin’s bed-wetting. Being more neutral concerning the situation, and positively noticing times when she showed behaviors we approved of. It was amazing how, when we stopped noticing it and instead bolstered her self-esteem by noticing her other capabilities, how much she blossomed! She became more vocal, lively, and within two weeks had stopped wetting the bed! Without my even implementing the Kazdin rewards chart system! (which, btw to all behaviorists out there, is meant to be applied ONLY as a temporary support to chronic situations.)

The recent observation showed me something further in her development.

First off, background info: Quin had just turned 3. I observed that Quin had been excluded from the older two children’s play, largely because, developmentally, her play had yet to reach the give-and-take socio-dramatic play level that the other children reveled in. Moreover, the other two children were using English, a language Quin was less expressive in (compared to Mandarin).

But Quin did show an interest in other children playing with her.

From 3 to 4 years

  • They begin to be interested in having friends. (Bruce, Meggit & Grenier, 2010)

As was apparent when she said “But no one is playing with me!” and when she would follow the other children around, and stand there staring at them play. She might have known the words for requesting to join their play, but she was not able to yet utilize it (3rd period in the three period lesson, Montessori). So even if I told her it she is unlikely to be able to use it organically.

At one point she was invited to pull a cart with the other children sitting down. She made a masterful effort, grunting as she tried very hard to pull the heavy cart.

What surprised me when seeing this was how, usually, she would throw a tantrum immediately after she tried and didn’t succeed. This told me that Quin is now able to subsume her own frustration for a greater interest. In this case, social – the opportunity to play with others.

It had come to my attention that after her 3rd birthday, there were less incidences of tantrums over things she wishes we would do for her. It hadn’t entirely gone away yet. But it is a worthy lesson for me to understand that, as much as she has her own personality and always shall, having a meltdown all the time is not an aspect of her TEMPERAMENT, but a developmental phase. It is necessary that I understand their stages and continue to view the children in the most positive potential light possible, so that I do not prove an obstruct to their growth (Montessori).

Montessori on Attachment

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Attachment Theory was developed after Maria Montessori by Bowlby, beginning in 1969. So imagine my surprise to find Montessori speaking of Attachment in her 1946 London Lectures!

Little children between three and six years of age have a special psychology. They are full of love. They are only without love if they are ill treated. If they are badly treated their real nature is altered. Children are full of love and need to be loved in order to grow. All mothers naturally love their children and so the children get this love that they need.The love of the parents is the security of the young age. Their joy in life depends on the love for each other of all the people around them.

The sense of security that comes from having loving parents is necessary, too, for success in school; children of united families are more successful. Little children need to feel that their parents cannot live without them – that if they are not happy, their parents suffer. A psychologist gae a lecture here in London showing that harm was done to small children who had to be left behind by their parents when they went to work in the Colonies. He gave a striking example of a businessman who went to Australia, leaving his wife and little son in England. The child felt that he father was not so attached to them and then one day the mother told him that his father needed her and that she would have to join him. The child was broken-hearted. he had had the security of thinking that his mother loved him better than anyone else and then learnt that she, instead preferred the father. This meant the loss of all security for him.

(…)

By seven years of age, the child has a different psychology. He is no longer dependent on his parents’ love.

— Lecture 28 Religious Education, The 1946 London Lectures

I had previously written briefly on Montessori’s viewpoint on attachment here through the words of her student, Margaret Humfray. Half a year later, I wrote an essay that particularly focused on Attachment, as part of my Montessori training requirements, where I was not to quote Montessori. Here I had the opportunity to delve into the science of the theory of attachment. Where I found some surprising things. I think it is useful for parents to be aware of the findings of these attachment studies in the past half century, which I have summarized below.

  1. John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory (1969) was inspired by various animal studies : Harlow’s cloth mother/iron mother rhesus monkey study, and Konrad Lorenz’s discovery of imprinting in grey lag goslings.
  2. Bowlby’s timeline for attachment:
    – Infants begin to exhibit preferential communication with primary caregivers around 5~7 months of age
    – Attachment behaviours (clinging, upset when mother figure is absent…etc.) at around 9 months.
    – Attachment behaviours peak at 12~16 months.
    – Attachement formation has a sensitive period up to 2 or 3 years of age.
    – Child becomes able to accomodate for other people’s needs around age 3. This is the next stage in the attachment relationship. Child exhibits less need for proximity and can now operate on more abstract needs such as affection, trust and approval.
  3. Mary Ainsworth discovered that parenting style influences attachment style. It is important to note that infants, and later children, are shown to express different forms of attachment behaviours (or types) when presented with different adults in their life. Ex: the child may express type B when interacting with father, and type D to mother.
  4. Attachment style has ramifications for parent-child relationship into adulthood. Afterwards, other researchers found that:
    – Attachment styles can continue to be propagated into the next generation.
    – Children can change attachment category through life (Smith, Cowie & Blades, 2003)
    – Mothers who experienced deprived parenting, but were highly reflective individuals, tended to raise securely attached infants (Fonagy etal., 1994)
  5.  Further into his career, Bowlby had modified his statement from ‘mothers’ to ‘primary caregivers’. Attachment does not have to be the mother, or female. Can be small constellation of primary caregivers.
  6. Later studies have also shown that there is no absolute prediction of the child’s ability to relate to others based on the attachment type they displayed in the lab during infancy. There are two ideas about how this may be: 1) that some children may be more resilient than others. And 2) that later trust relationships that were formed may also be influential to the child’s social outlook.

    Keywords: Internal Working Model (Bowlby, 1969), Concept of Self (Bowlby, 1988), Secure Base, Strange Situation (Ainsworth), Parenting Styles (Ainsworth, 1978), 4 Types of Attachment (Ainsworth et al, 1978; Main, Solomon, 1990), Adult Attachment Interview (George, Kaplan, Main)

 

Films for children ages 2~5

I would like to suggest here a list of videos that we allow our children to watch. In dialogue with other parents and teachers, I have come to realise that my list is more stringent than most (among both secular and religious).

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Young children have a slower processing speed than adults, and require adequate context (background information) to understand plot and dialogue. I personally believe it is possible to, superficially, give children context through film. Superficially, because this medium engages only two of our senses. It is important, however, that even in giving children context, we pay attention to the scaffolding of knowledge. Film can be very effectively used to illustrate concepts or questions that we have. I would, however, strongly suggest we carefully control this medium as a means to answer questions, so that the written word can still hold attraction for a child. Our challenge as adults is to allow children to feel enough mental hunger, with just-right resources, so that their natural inclination to learn can be optimised.

Pacing is also extremely important. It is possible for a young child to appear entranced, and say they enjoy a film, without being aware of the plot and thereby derive meaningful benefit to them.

I believe that this list is mostly adequate for children throughout their preschool years (2 ~6 years old), particularly as young children enjoy the comforts of watching the same videos over and over again. In our family, we only let children watch videos on the weekends, for 30 minutes each time, 2 times a day. We are also flexible in reducing the time each day if the kids are having fun, and sometimes mixing it up with doing boardgames, making something, or puzzles together instead.

Please note that I still do not recommend any videos for children under two years old, despite recent APA change.

The following is roughly listed by order of introduction. Also, as a Montessorian, I try to minimize fantasy for this age group because it is difficult for children this age to distinguish between fantasy and reality. A good grounding in real things is also vital to children’s imaginations later on. However, it is very difficult. I would always suggest watching something yourself before allowing your child to see it. I do not necessarily follow what is politically correct, even though most of the films here happen to be, because children do not necessarily focus on what the adults see. My focus is pacing, understanding, relate-ability, comfort, low-stimulation, and (mostly) accurate information for this age group.

  1. Le Ballon Rouge : a mostly wordless story of a young boy and his magical balloon in post WWII Paris.
  2. Petit D’Ours Brun: French, a brown bear and his family. Very relate-able to a young child’s daily life close to home. Each episode lasting only 3 minutes
  3. Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood: Repetition and pacing, on topics that matter to young children. There are whole essays written on the lovableness of Mr. Roger’s philosophy.
  4. Go Outside by Cbeebies: slightly similar to the above. All reality based.
  5. Thomas the Tank Engine: I recommend the first series. Also The End of the Line which talks about how trains work. I allowed the children to watch End of the Line before we started with Thomas.
  6. http://www.storylineonline.net : some real gems here of oral story telling. Particularly the older the actor the better they perform. I am also fond of audiobooks for road trips.
  7. Mr. Wizard: Science experiments. I do not recommend Bill Nye the Science Guy for this age group.
  8. nfb.ca : Canadian National Film Board. A lot of treasures to look for.
  9. National Geographic: I recommend getting the DVDs instead of channel. Their recent programs are often too hyper and convey less information.
  10. Scholastic Storybook Treasures: DVDs, a lot are very well produced from classic story books.
  11. Studio Ghibli’s – My neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. All of the rest should be reserved for elementary or adolescence.
  12. Miniscule – animated insects doing things. Cute, but not vital.
  13. Old fashioned musicals: So far we have watched Merry Andrews, and Oliver! (1968) – though I may skip part of the ending until elementary. The music made a big impression on the children. The Sound of Music is also adequate.
  14. Frozen – I have not found anything objectionable in this one. It is a lovely surprise.
In talking to various friends and acquaintances who share my educational philosophy, it appears that my view of acceptable imagery for children may be more stringent than most. A great deal of this is attributed to my own memories of TV watching when my father was getting his Masters in the US (between ages 4~7 years old) – how it made me feel, how much I actually comprehended, which parts I enjoyed…etc. It is possible to examine them closely because some of the videos I watched I have only viewed again much later, like now as an adult, and so I am quite sure that the memories of the experience have not been changed through repeated viewings as I matured. As long as I remember, my parents had never had cable TV, and around the time I was in middle school, my parents cut off access to television completely. This has been extremely conducive towards my being forced to create my own amusements and content – through reading, writing and crafting. But this is another story.
If you talk to Montessori teachers, many of them will recommend very little to no TV watching at home. Montessori teachers who have young children of their own, however,will often have them watch things. The fact of life is that we are often so busy, and there are so many media options for us as adults to consume, that we rarely screen children’s media or watch it ourselves before giving it to our children.

Susan Sontag has theorized that photography desensitizes its audience to horrific human experiences, and children are exposed to experiences before they are ready for them. I would argue that movies have an even more surreptitious effect – for they present images so quickly, and often in such an authoritative manner, that disturbances rarely allow for adequate processing to articulate. The fact that some children do not present with maladjustment immediately prior to an imagery experience does not, as many sensitive parents and caregivers well know, imply that it has not bothered them .

Meghan Owenz states in a post here:

Some shows for young children attempt to teach children valuable social lessons, such as the importance of honesty. But your child will likely learn social lessons better from you.  One study found that children sometimes come away with the opposite “lesson,” thinking a solution is to lie as opposed to tell the truth. In the study, children were more like to remember the conflict or struggle over lying, but not the solution.11 Because children cannot consistently understand the difference between fantasy and reality until after age 6, the conflict may be more salient to them. It is like a threat and their brain directs more resources towards it, making it likely that they will remember that conflict.

Much older research from 1978 had previously found that when prosocial content is mixed with violence or conflict, children focused on the antisocial components like violence more than outcomes or messages associated with the violence.12 A meta-analysis of previous studies found that when children were shown prosocial content with violence or conflict, there was an association with negative behavioral outcomes.13 The take-home: When there is scary, threatening or violent conflict, that is what children pay attention to and remember, often at the expense of remembering the consequences or solutions.

Would be interested to hear of other ones you recommend!

Update on the 3 munchkins

While 7 month old Inge has made the occasional sound, some of which sound more intentional than most, today is the first time I noticed her play a game (almost intentionally) with me.

It started innocently enough. I was trying to feed her some smushy food and demonstrated, opening my mouth saying aaaah. She ignored me. I exaggerated the sound, and she, rascal inscrutable infant that she was, started giggling. So I filmed her.

Afterwards, when I focused on my own food, she would say ‘aah!’ to gain my attention. I consider this a step up from crying, or staring at you avidly until you notice. So thumbs up Inge for another step on the path to communicating with us big ‘uns!

Moving on to my backlog of notes over September to now. I would like to continue with the kids throughout our vacation and after … though it will be less detailed as I’d like it to be, I suggest if you do not care for minutiae of other people’s children you might stop reading now : )

I bought a hand drill for the kids this time in the States. Knox can use it independently. Quit needs help as her hand is smaller.

We went to Harbe’s Farm for the end of summer corn and kid activities. I have always loved bouncy castles growing up. So it was a sweet feeling when I watched Quin, being the slow warmer-upper that she is, finally found out how fun it was too.

What with this and jumping on hotel beds, she has become quite the bouncier girl upon our return.

A few incidences popped up during our vacation which involved administrative work. At one point, Mike had to make some calls regarding our flight tickets in the hotel room. A hotel room is not generally a child-friendly place, so besides jumping from bed-to-bed (which would have been too rambunctious), the kids put their hands on the hotel phone. I immediately unplugged it and decided to play an impromptu phone game (I may have been nursing Inge at the time, so was not mobile). I had noticed that the children were not completely aware how to carry on a phone conversation. So here are the characters I played:

– the laundry man.
– the hotel person.
– the police.
– your grandmother.

it appeared the children were much more vocal when they felt it to be a game I was playing with them. When I felt their loquaciousness had reached a cheerful level, I called my mother-in-law (immediate application). It was so lovely to see how their confidence carried over into what seemed more like an actual conversation than usual.

And oh, how I enjoyed the kids enjoying the playgrounds in New York City. We went to Hippo Park, Pier 25 playground, and we went twice to Heckscher Playground (Central Park). A part of Heckscher was swings and sandpit and rope jungle-gym and stone slide (of a demure incline), but the kids were drawn to the ‘risky’ stuff – the long long slide, the tire swing that goes all around and your sister sit in it too and you stand on it! And the castles with small passageways and staircases and little barely-there steps on the sides of the walls that you can scale which are very non-adult friendly. But the crowning glory were the boulders! Miniature hills cunningly designed to appear precarious. The kids tried them again and again. We sat on one and had a take-out picnic lunch. The last thing they were doing before we called them away was walking all over those rocks!

Am I gushing? Yes. Because I remember what a drive it was as a child to climb and walk and hop over high rocks. I have even dreamed about it (because the opportunities were so few).

Upon our return to Taiwan, Knox (4 years, 9 months) reminded me of things I needed to prepare so he would be able to bring it to school. I feel immensely grateful that he is such a responsible human, for truly I am that parent who forgets to bring stuff (Mike rarely is).

Knox also asked a few new questions. He asked why there is war. And (I think a few days later?) he asked what is a god. He referred here to the character Thor that some child had told him of. Mike explained how some people believe that there is a god. I believe we also gave him a brief narrative about war, but I don’t recall the whole precisely.

The Sydney opera house is in one of our books featuring buildings. So one day Quin told me she would like to go to Sydney tomorrow.

Me: But it’s a very long way away. We may not be going there anytime soon!

Quin: That’s okay. I can just sit in the stroller.

 


Overheard Mike quote this week: Helping means doing the things that need to be done, not just whatever you feel like doing.

Explaining things

At dinner time today Knox told me he noticed that young men like to play the fighting monsters on their phones. “You mean video games?” “No, the fighting monsters on their phones… it’s called video games?” “I think so… where did you see this?” “In the MRT. I secretly looked at what they were doing on their phones.”
 
“Yes, those are called video games. It’s very attractive to young men, you noticed. You have been observing!”
 
“Yes I have!”
 
I then talked a little about the idea that we used to be hunters & gatherers (some controversy here, I know, but it’s one explanation he can start from and debunk in future if opportunity arises), and that is why little girls, even when they are babies, are very drawn to pretty patterns, particularly red that might be food they can gather to eat. “And I did too!” Knox said, and I said no, you didn’t do that when you were a baby, but both Quin and Inge really liked my (flower pattern) bag and would want to touch it. and I showed my bag. Knox nodded. Yes he was really not interested in my bag.
 
“And little boys, they are often drawn to things that move, particularly animals they can hunt and eat. So that is why many little boys like cars, because their eyes like to track things that move.” (the tracking thing is proven)
 
And then I said: That’s why many boys and men like video games. Because it satisfies something in them. But you know, if they satisfy this too much, they won’t have time to do anything else. Like meet girls, and take care of babies. If your daddy were playing video games all the time he wouldn’t be taking care of you and your sisters!
 
“And I want to get married and take care of my children too! So I won’t play video games.”
 
“Oh I’m not saying that video games are bad. They can be satisfying in some ways. I’m just saying that you need to make sure you have time to do all the other things you want to do too.”
—————————————————————–
So many things that I felt while having this conversation with him: Is it comprehensible? Would he understand? (he seemed to) Am I trying to control him or offer him a tool? I am happy that he appears interested in this story and was able to listen.
 
But predominantly I feel grateful that there has been so much discovered about our world, that I can tell him interesting nonfiction stories that might help him make sense of his life and how he may want to live it. I truly feel that it is important to know your options. Mike occasionally explains things to Knox when he asks, and I can really see Knox’s comprehension from this patient talk of his father’s come out through the things he says – concepts building upon concepts, which only makes it easier for us to explain increasingly complex concepts.
 
Afterwards we watched a documentary about birds building nests. I was touched by how the narrator said “and all things leads to this – the next generation.” incidentally reinforcing the message about the purpose of our lives. So life continues. And it is precious.
 
We had previously talked about how hurt people are more likely to hurt other people. And how someone who seems angry might actually be hurting… and so many other interesting things, many of which I had only learnt in the past few years. 
 
Other thing I hope to eventually cover as opportunity arises:
– reproductive costs for human females vs males

It was surprising to me that video games would come up now. At this rate I’m gonna soon run out of interesting factoids for them!
 
*sorry about the hetero-central theme here!