I have been focusing on Lucien-led, delight-driven learning lately. My goal is to sit back and really observe what he is exploring and learning, and then be a helpful yet relatively unobtrusive facilitator. I give him plenty of opportunities to visit interesting places (parks, natural spaces, beaches, libraries, music class, My Gym) and when we are at home I make sure he has access to the materials he wants – lately rubber stamps, glitter glue, cardboard boxes, and lots of books. Then I step back! The results have been pretty amazing for me …. all of the things he is picking up, all the new and creative ideas, all of the skills and interests he is developing. No formal education or plan, but he is learning so much!
We have been on a reading spree lately! Especially at breakfast and lunch, and just after waking from nap, he likes to sit and read for an extended period. Lucien is interested in longer books with more developed story lines, and I have been thrilled to deliver. The adventures of Frog and Toad have been a favorite lately, as well as Owl at Home. We just discovered a series of books about Gus and Grandpa which is quickly becoming a staple. And he acts out or discusses the story lines with me at different points during the day, so I know that he is assimilating so much.
Another interesting development for me to observe is Lucien’s curiosity about the structure of books. Whenever we pick one up he invariably asks me about the title page, the author, or the table of contents. That is his big game when reading Frog and Toad – having me read through the table of contents and then deliberating about which story to read next. And as soon as we finish one story we must return to the table of contents! I was also thrilled to discover a Magic School Bus book that captured his attention. It is all about wind, wind turbines and mills, kites, hang gliders, and all sorts of flying machines. The science geek in me is so excited! And living here in Hawaii we have plenty of opportunities to observe hang gliders, kites, planes, and helicopters.
Speaking of science, wind and energy …. Lucien continues to have massive amounts of energy, much of which is expended playing at the park. One Sunday he and Daddy went to play and swing at the park together, and when they came back they told me all about kinetic energy and wind resistance and why the swing slows down with each iteration.
(This is the way we walk to the park – wearing nothing but Thomas the Tank Engine underwear and shiny pink shoes, pushing a pink princess cart filled with bears. He is still taking such good care of those bears, the sweet, nurturing soul, and where we go they must go, too.)
Also fitting in with the science theme, Lucien has invented his own new game. He calls it “the butterfly game.” He presents to be a caterpillar, lies down on a blanket, and then requests that I wrap him up really tight in the blanket. He then declares that he is in his chrysalis and asks me to carry him around the house for a while. When I set him down he unwraps himself and declares that he has become a butterfly, then proceeds to flap his wings and “fly” around. I asked him once if I could be a butterfly, too, and he said “No, mama’s just a moth!” So I made him laugh with a comic impression of a moth flapping its wings.
Another Lucien-initiated game that has been popular lately is “play letters.” We sit down with the magnetic letters on the freezer and I make a word, like hat. Lucien names the letters and we sound them out, then I switch out one letter, and maybe make a word like cat. Or sat. Or mat. We made up a fantastically funny story about nice mice who ate rice and chewed on ice. But thankfully they didn’t have head lice.
Lucien is ever the musician. He loves attending music class, and when we are at home I enjoy listening to him sing all sorts of songs – some from class, some by Raffi, some of his own creation. He is also quite the percussionist, drumming away with his sticks on all different surfaces. Another very funny game lately has been changing the words to his favorite songs. Maybe he only changes one word, maybe he makes up entirely new lyrics, maybe I substitute a silly word …. and then we both giggle.
Every day is full of adventure! Preparing food in the kitchen (That’s a strawberry-banana-coconut milk smoothie to accompany his eggs and sweet potato.), building blanket forts in the living room (The bears and their cart are invited in, of course!), giving his dog a bath in the sink, and climbing up high at My Gym.