Every morning, without fail, B&F ask for an art time. And they aren't just satisfied with a box of crayons and some paper....they want a planned-out, project-oriented art time. I know this doesn't sound like a huge deal, but I am absolutely not a preschool teacher. I do not have endless 3-year-old projects tucked away in my brain, and am often not brave enough to delve into the mess that comes with many pinterest projects. But I try. I try to come up with something fun and engaging every morning, not just because they love it so much, but because I truly believe that kids learn through play.
We don't spend a lot of time doing flashcards in our home. In fact, the only "flashcards" the twins have ever had were used to identify the Disney character on them instead of for the intended name-the-shape game. No offense to the moms out there doing flashcards--you do what works for you. But for us, I am firmly planted in the "we expect too much out of our children at far too young an age" camp. I don't want my 3-year-olds feeling the pressures and anxieties of academia yet. There's plenty of time for that. For now, we learn through playing trucks and kitchens and dolls, and we learn through art time.
But as many of you know, I have a bit of a competitive side. Since having kids, my need to "make the grade" has quelled substantially, but it still flares at times. When someone posts a video of their kid, just a few months older than mine, reading. When someone oh-so-humbly brags that their 2.5 year old can write all their letters. When someone notifies us that their 4-year-old has been invited to apply for early admission at Harvard. Sometimes I freak out a bit. Am I doing a terrible job? I mean...I'm a stay-at-home mom...my kids should probably be to chapter books at 3. Why are we spending time gluing this silly looking penguin together? We should be reading and writing and memorizing! They seriously just used the penguin's feet as its eyes! I am definitely failing here!!!! Less playing more learning!
But those freak outs, those comparisons, are all about me. I am never actually worried that B&F aren't doing well enough. They are geniuses! Truly, I believe (as every parent should) that my children are exceptional. My fear of failure has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me. So we keep playing. Because that's what we have determined, through research and gut-instinct, is best for our children. And then, in their own 3-year-old way and through God's precious grace, they do something that assures me we are doing just fine.
At parent-teacher conference (yes, for the older 2s class), I asked about making smiley faces. I said we had worked on it to their complete disinterest, and I wondered if they should be able to draw one now. The teachers said absolutely not...many kids much older still wouldn't intentionally put the parts of the smiley face together. A few weeks later while out to dinner, the kiddos were drawing. And Frances drew a smiley face. A literally perfect smiley fact, with eyes, nose, mouth, hair, and ears. Then Barnes followed suit, with another perfectly recognizable face. Y'all...I know it sounds tiny, but those two precious drawings were balm to this mom's sometimes weary soul.
When we become parents, we give up so much of who we are....but not everything. I still have my quirks. I still have my irrational need for achievement. And those sweet smiley faces were one of my favorite achievements to date.