Saturday, 3 September 2011

What I learnt from Potty Training

You may have noticed these past few weeks we haven't posted much.  The reason for this is that we have been focusing our efforts on helping Girl to master using the potty.  Our approach (for those who are interested) was to spend one week taking her to the potty every hour although she was still wearing nappies.  Then after this she went into pants and we continued to take her to the potty regularly.  This has worked really well for us and she is now confidently telling us when she wants to go.  The whole process has taken only two weeks.  Girl is 22 months old so by some standards she is quite young but has been very keen to do it and really initiated it herself.  I'm not suggesting this would work in all cases.  In fact, Boy was much later to toilet train and was really scared of the potty and refused to use it.
Now to the title of this post.  What I learnt from Potty Training.  It has nothing to do with the potty.  We do a lot of activities in our home.  This is no bad thing of course.  The children and I enjoy doing it and they are never forced to do anything.  If they're not in the mood then we don't bother.  However, these last few weeks we've done far fewer planned activities because all our energy has been on remembering to visit the potty at regular intervals.  This has given the children much more 'space' and opportunity to play freely.
Boy has been 'reading' to his sister and some toys.  They made picnics, played shops more, in fact, a great deal more role play than they would usually do and for extended periods of time.  Girl has really shown far more interest in books and has been constantly bringing her favourites to me to be read to.  As a result, her speech and language has progressed.  I have found quite a few photos on the camera that Boy has taken (one below further down).  He has been experimenting on his own without being directed or restricted.
What I have learnt is that sometimes we can be so busy doing things that we don't always really watch what is going on with children's play.  This was re-iterated to me earlier this week when I was having a conversation with our fantastic Nursery Manager Steph.  We were talking about planning for a staff training session next week.  We make use of flipcams at the nursery to assist in observing children.  She had been looking back over some of the videos and had noticed that the vast majority of flipcam film observations are of children doing 'activities' rather than engaged in their own free play.  This isn't that children don't play freely but just that adults are not observing them at these times so much.
 It reminded me of the following poem 'Leisure' by William Henry Davies;
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
 Our lives can be so busy.  Toddler groups, nursery, activity classes, school, homework, visiting family, shopping.  Our staying in the house for the past few weeks has enabled me to really just sit back and watch the children.  Sometimes you don't need to be doing things with them, just be with them and let them involve you if they want to.  It has been in these times of free play in the past that I have been able to identify when my children have been showing schematic behaviour and then I have been able to plan activities for them in line with this.   Boy starts Primary School this week so the two children will be spending less time together from now on so I'm really pleased that they have been making so much creative play together in recent weeks.  In fact, right now they are hiding behind a chair together, pushing the chair backwards and forwards together and laughing and smiling.  So what I have learnt is simply to watch them more!

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