Today, I visited the No Child Left Behind store for teachers and parents on Springfield Avenue in Champaign (right next to Swann School). The owner is a very lovely woman who used to teach pre-k and kindergarten. I went in looking for some supplies for my summer with X-man.
I'm very excited. In approximately one month, X-man will say goodbye to Next Gen and will spend the summer with me. Since he and I haven't had three months together without some sort of childcare intervention since he was an infant, I thought I should prepare. I know he appreciates a schedule. I know I appreciate a schedule. But at the same time you don't want to take the impromptu fun that is summer break out of the weeks off before kindergarten starts.
He and I sat down and he told me some of the things he'd like to do this summer. Learning to swim was at the top of his list. He also said he needed to learn his phone number so he can call me in an emergency. He also asked to do two science experiments a week, preferably things he could eat OR things that would blow up.
So, I went to the store today and picked up some items supporting his choices as well as some items that I wanted to continue working on with him over the summer, so he doesn't forget his letter sounds or how to count to 100. I found a Melissa and Doug 51-piece puzzle of the United States. I brought it home and watched him put it together. Each of the states has a picture of something popular in that state. As he put them down, he'd ask me what state they were and who he might know in the state. We also talked about our travels and where we'd been.
And just so the people out there know, X-man has a list of places he plans on going:
1. To the Apple State to see Colby Jack.
2. To the Buffalo State to see DinoJonah.
3. To the Peanut State to see the Supers.
4. To the Space Shuttle State "Because space is cool."
5. To the Cactus State "Because I've never been to a desert."
It was a lot of fun to be on the floor and watch him use his brain and ask questions. And even cooler when he immediately took the finished puzzle apart and then put it back together and REMEMBERED each of the stories I told him about the states. So even if he forgets the name of the state, he remembers the picture on the puzzle piece, the story about it and where it goes on the map.
I know most of the synopses are supposed to be pruned by age 3. But I always love the spongie-ness of child-centered learning. If they're interested in what you're saying, they soak it up like crazy. If it's boring, their eyes glaze over and it's blah, blah, blah.
My guess is this is probably going to be how it is all the way through his school years. If he likes it, he'll become obsessed and focused on it to the grand scale, and if he rolls his eyes and tunes out -- we'll have lost him.
Challenging, who would have guessed? :-)