Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Writing numbers and trusting your child
Here's a great tip for anyone with toddlers / pre-schoolers wanting to draw or write!
All you need is a dry-wipe marker and a bit of faith in your child that they'll stick to writing on glass surfaces! We gave the marker to Charlie one day when he was 2 and he had great fun drawing stick men on the window in the living room. I'd forgotten about it since, and came across the marker in the drawer, so though it would make a change from using paper. He loved using his "dwawing board" in the car, on the sofa, it followed him everywhere, one of those magnetic things with an attached pen. He really began drawing in earnest on that from 2 years old on, scribbling, moving onto shapes and stick men and then his age, then more numbers and now the odd letter. (He signs cards with a sideways "C 3" because he's Charlie and he's 3. Pencils and crayons on paper seem to be harder to manage, he has to press hard and have a firm hand grip, so usually uses marker on paper.
Yesterday he wanted to practice numbers, so after a little sojourn on the glass table we moved onto the bar. The white wooden bits were out of bounds, and he respected that. He stopped and started, asking "what does number 7 look like again?" and I'd say "across and down", and he'd do it. He completed to 15 like this, and was very proud of himself, then loved rubbing them all off. I had held off teaching him letters and numbers for the last while, thinking I didn't want him to be bored when he starts school, but then realised if he's asking to do them, there's my cue, as with all our baby-led parenting practices.
He's been looking over my shoulder as I type this, so we did a little "interview", him with a very supercilious face, knowing full-well that he'll hear the answers back, and being very self-consciously smart with me.
Me: What did you draw?
C: They're numbers and they're 1, 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 and that's all.
Me: What did you use?
C: A marker (mah-kuh)
Me: Why did u do it?
C: 'Cuz I just wanted to learn my numbers. That's all, bye bye.
Me: What number do you like best?
C: 3. Poopoo
Me: What number do you not like?
C: I don't like N or O or 3, I just like poo.
Me: Which is easiest to write?
Me: Which number is the hardest?
Me: Is the marker fun to write with?
C: Yeah, and it wubs off.
Me: Does it rub off skin?
C: No it doesn't 'cuz it really smells
Me: Where else can u write?
C: On glass and paper and on markers playing, because some markers be very smelly when they're used a longlonglonglong time ago. I wonder why are they so smelly? Mama write down doh doh doh.
Me: Do you like these questions?
C: Yeah I do
C: Cuz I poopoo man and you poopoo on my head. Now would you read it to me, mama would you read it to me, mama would you read it to me, mama please would you read it to me?
Me: Tell me one more thing about markers?
C: Well it doesn't rub off from your clothes, because see this thing here (points to permanent marker spot on his top), it will never rub off from my top. I'm a bit mad about that. Now can I hear it mama?
The "faith in your child" thing is not left to chance, and didn't start on one designated day, such as Charlie's 3rd birthday. From day one we've been trusting Charlie to do the right thing. It began with us not baby-proofing our house, showing him the "ah-ah" places he wasn't to go near, showing him how to go up and down the stairs safely. This moved on to trusting him to cut something with a scissors, use a sharp pencil, play with a porcelain dog ornament (it only "died" after a good few weeks play!), moving on to showing him where he can and can't climb in the house, where is okay to play, what is hot, what is breakable etc. This constant education has shown him the world around him is accessible, and not to be feared. My dad still stands between Charlie and the road when he's getting Charlie out of the car in his driveway, still thinking that Charlie might make a "dash" for the traffic, when the very thought would seem ridiculous to Charlie. We never used baby reins with him, he was carried or trusted to walk alongside us. He has been helping set the table since he could walk, toddling from kitchen to dining room with cutlery, cups, the sugar bowl, now the milk jug. I think he's dropped the sugar once, certainly way less accidents than we have had. His safety is of course paramount to us, but we also believe we need to gently introduce sense and responsibility to him as he becomes able for it.
What do you trust your child to do?