Category Archives: month 4

Month 4 Week 4: Childproofing creatively

While babyproofing our home, I challenged myself to think about redesigning for both safety and play.  As I’ve just started, the final result might take weeks (months? years? continuously evolve?) so I’m blogging ideas along the way that expand on the early play concepts from the meet up a fortnight back.

  • Children don’t play in order to learn, they learn while they play
  • Children need to feel a sense of belonging with the freedom to establish a culture and social world with their peers
  • Adapt to children’s ideas rather than structure their ideas to fit the adult’s. Projects with directions and planned activities are fine in moderation but more time (80% in their early years) should be spent in open-ended, self-initiated free play. Children these days spend too much time in settings that focus on structured educational, enrichment and recreational activities.
  • Emphasize the enjoyment and value of the “process” of playing and creating, more than the finished product. Let children express what they see, hear, feel, think – and then find solutions and modify experiences to maximise creativity. Children should expect to “make mistakes.” Accept unusual ideas and solutions – suspend judgment!
  • Facilitate creative play indoors and outdoor:
    • Provide long, uninterrupted periods (45–60 minutes minimum) for spontaneous free play
    • Encourage children to manipulate the environment to support their play
    • Recognize the value of messy play, rough-and-tumble play, and nonsense play as well
    • Allow time to explore all possibilities, moving from popular to more original ideas, considering opportunities for challenge and age-appropriate risk-taking
    • Draw on everyday problems, observations and objects
  • Provide a variety of materials to stimulate different kinds of play—blocks and construction toys for cognitive development; sand, mud, water, clay, art and food stuff, other loose open-ended materials for sensory play; dress-up clothes and props for pretend play; balls, hoops, climbing places, and open space for gross motor play:
  • Provide play-space(s) that allows age-appropriate easy, independent access to explore:
    • Cosy reading corner: Place books into an appliance box surrounded by rugs, pillows, blankets, armchair — where both adults and children can read together. Use voices for the characters in the books you read. Change a book into a talking puppet. Make up stories!
    • Open art center: Put a table next to an easel, tub of playdough, low shelves filled with supplies like crayons, glue, staplers, tape, scissors, cardboard/heavy/wrapping paper, collage materials (i.e. odds and ends – stickers, buttons, beads, scraps, etc.)
  • Increase opportunities for rich symbolic role play. Pretend play engages children in the same kind of representational thinking needed in early literacy activities. Children develop complex narratives, link objects, actions, and language together in combinations and narrative sequences
    • Change the furniture around and lay out a basket of props, clothes, etc.
    • Picnic on the floor instead of the usual table meal
    • Turn a chair/table over and make it a boat, car, house, bed, cave
    • Modify a corner into the home of the three bears, a rocket ship, a vets office, etc.
    • Build towers and bridges with wooden blocks, tubes, empty paper rolls
  • Go outside! Natural landscapes outdoors provide rich, diverse, multi-sensory experiences; opportunities for noisy, boisterous, vigorous, physically active play; physical challenge and risktaking that are inherent in the value of play; rough, uneven surfaces, development of physical strength, balance, and coordination; and natural elements and loose parts that children can combine, manipulate, and adapt for their own purposes.
  • Show your appreciation of your children’s creativity. Laugh, document, display and discuss often. Share works they are proud of.  Play on their terms, taking an interest, asking questions, offering suggestions, and engaging eagerly when invited – ride the slide, put on a hat, assume a role, etc.
  • Accept and love them for who they are!

Sources:

– Mary Ann Kohl’s article on Fostering Creativity
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Month 4 Week 3: Music to my ears

Took B to a music and movement workshop for 0-6 month olds to get more ideas and meet like-minded moms.  Alas, the outcome was a little disappointing.  The environment wasn’t too conducive for infants, facilitator well-meaning but pushy, and topics covered rather common sense.  Basically, they emphasised positive affirmation throughout the infant’s development by offering comfort (0-2 months), interaction/observation (3-4 mos) and participation (5-6 mos), using music and movement as a means of experiential conditioning and incidental learning to stimulate the brain and bonding.  A few Kindermusic songs were introduced and parents were encouraged to touch, massage, use repeated motions synchronised with music, and compose their own lyrics and songs.  I guess there would’ve been some value for moms who may not have done this before but I found it rather simplistic as I’ve been talking and playing in-song with him since Day 1, we’ve both really enjoyed this and the other caregivers at home also try to follow suit.  Unfortunately, B got bored/fussed towards the end since they started late while we got there early, began to squeal/shriek and only calmed down once I took him outside.  I do regret not getting to know the other moms with 4-6 month old infants there as we didn’t get a chance to introduce ourselves and our little ones within the group and I was too busy minding B.  Oh well, it was worth a try!

ETA: Time to get going with baby signing, B is clearly trying to communicate and explore verbally. Till he forms words, his newfound shrieking will just continue….!

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Month 4 Week 1: Each in his own time

B’s turning into such a delightful little 4 month baby boy!

Mommy lessons:

  1. Milestone comparison syndrome:  Hubby and I have guiltily caught ourselves saying “he’s 90% on this but only 75% on that” or “he *still* can’t roll over on his own,” etc…. We have to remind ourselves that every child develops at his own pace.  B can’t always be above average, dear! 
  2. Food fussiness:  After weeks of relatively easy and fast bottle feeding, B started getting really distracted — taking 30+ mins to drink 180 ml (6.5 oz) as he tugged on his bib/my hair/anything within grasp, skipping a feed and/or not finishing his bottle at times.  We upgraded his bottle teat to level 2/M for faster flow and also positioned him to face outwards, sitting upright instead with something to hold in his hands.  That has improved things though he occasionally drinks only 4 instead of 5 times a day — even going 10 to 12 hours between bottles!  That said, as his growth has so far been OK, the doc suggested not to worry and wait till month 5 before introducing solids.  I am however starting him on a trainer cup using this all-in-one grow-with-your-baby set
  3. Socialising with baby:  B is becoming more responsive and selective with whom he interacts. He grins, squeals, laughs, babbles away when he’s excited and also has a really loud high pitched cry now when he wants attention! (B has no idea what using your inside voice is … yet). I’ve started to take him to some playdates with fellow newborn mom-friends and signed up for a few infant Meet Up events.  Am also thinking of teaching him baby sign language to help our communication.  Any recs? 

Baby milestones:

  1. Tummy time everywhere:  He’s been actively doing at least 30 mins now on the playmat, sofa, bed, mama’s tummy, etc.  and seems to (finally) enjoy this more and for longer periods of time.  Once in a while he graces us with a wide grin when he discovers or accomplishes something like moving his hands forward, lifting his head up 90 degrees, making a full push up, etc.  
  2. It’s never too early to read:  Storytime has become a regular part of B’s day and bedtime ritual now.  My parents introduced me to the wonderful world of books very early on and I wanted to do the same for him with series like Go Baby, Baby Touch and Amazing Baby, as well as some great fabric,  musical and classic baby books from friends.  It’s a plus that libraries here are well stocked, in generally good condition and well used.  Can you believe B wasn’t even the youngest member when we signed him up at 7 weeks old?  Kiasu Singapore!
  3. His “I” is emerging – just flow with it: B’s developing strong preferences and doesn’t hesitate to show it.  E.g. When I turn on his mobile and he gets bored, he now uses his fists or feet to change the buttons.  He only likes the activity gym/playmat on our bed; put him down on it elsewhere and he’ll just stare at it, unmoving!  He doesn’t like to be rocked anymore to nap during the daytime and will squirm and squeal loudly; instead put him in his bouncer, rock/sing/shush gently for a few minutes and viola!