September 25, 2014
Well, I should have started this a few weeks ago, but I will start here. A few weeks ago I started as the full-time day care for both of our grandchildren. I had been full-time day care for our grandson since he was three months old, but in the middle of the summer, I started with both kids. It has been a challenge since our granddaughter is 2 and our grandson is 11 months. They are in two different stages of development, so, thinking of things to keep them busy and interested isn’t always easy. I’m using my past experience as teaching in a day care setting to help me. Back in those days I taught toddlers ages 18 months to 2-years-old. Assisting me are some very handy lesson plan books geared for teachers of very young children. So, with all that, I hope they are getting a nice variety of learning experiences as well as having some fun, too. We transformed our living room so that it functions as the main day care area, while also still functioning as a living room. (my apologies here, I have never been sure if day care is one word or two) We also use the kitchen and dining areas for meals and for art and science projects. The kids have our kids’ old rooms for sleeping and it all seems to function pretty well.
We live in a (kind of) rural setting, with about an acre of land and I make sure we get outside every day, unless it is raining like it is today. I think I might get some rain jackets and rubber boots to keep here, then we can still go outside, unless it is a torrential downpour. This country setting is nice because we get an opportunity to see some wildlife in the yard, including deer. We have a patio swing in the “wildlife dining area” and very often, the kids and I sit on that, just swinging and watching he animals. For being so young, they actually are able to sit for quite a while. They are very interested in the animals.
During the hot summer months, we went out a few times a week to play in the inflatable pool. That was a good activity for both kids. We also put a sandbox near the pool. Kind of gave us that “at the beach” feeling. Sometimes we play in the yard with the variety of outdoor toys. But, our favorite outdoor activity is a ride in the wagon. Well, they ride, I pull. I love the wagon. It certainly is an upgrade from the old red wagons I remember as a kid. This wagon has two seats with seat belts, cup holders and a canopy to keep the sun off them. I enjoy it because between them, they are 50 pounds and our route takes us up and down hills. I switch back and forth from arm to arm and so, with the walking, pulling 50 pounds and the hill work, I get a pretty good workout! The kids love it because they get to take a snack along, and they get to see so many things. They see cars and big trucks, neighbors, animals, flowers and trees. Once we get back home, they enjoy a walk through “Grandma’s garden.” In the garden they discovered tomatoes, green beans, peas and carrots. They discovered pretty marigolds, fragrant herbs, butterflies, bees and other bugs. We also planted seeds in a small container to make our own mini garden. Digging in the dirt was fun!
Inside, I offer a mix of free play and then more structured activities. We do plenty of stories, songs, finger plays and felt board stories and songs. We do some easy cooking projects, painting, coloring, etc. I gear everything for Norah, the 2-year-old. She needs some help to get started but once she knows what to do, she likes to do the work herself. You know, the familiar, “I do it.” Eric needs a little more help with his projects and his attention span doesn’t last as long, so, he is usually done first. Which is fine. He enjoys time to be able to play on his own. Normally, Norah is in charge and tells him how to play, what to play with, etc. 🙂
Our house also has some wonderful windows which are perfect to sit by and look outside. They love to see the birds and squirrels, the flowers, the garden, people walking down the street with dogs, pushing strollers, or jogging. They get to see cars, school buses and big trucks drive by. It is very entertaining.
Both children love to climb, which is not good most of the time because they are climbing and jumping on things I don’t want them to jump on, such as the living room furniture. Norah needs to take gymnastics, because she uses the couches as if she is in gymnastics already. She is always dangling off the back of the couch and shouting, “Look, Grandma!” Of course I have to make her get down and sit on the couch, but on the inside I’m thinking she really is pretty good. My Mom would have loved it. (my mom was a professional dancer before she got married, then she taught ballet, tap and acrobatics for years) But, hopefully the Little Tikes trampoline we bought will offer a better place to jump and hopefully burn off some energy! I also put some duct tape on the carpet and showed Norah how to walk on it, like a balance beam. She loves it. I also do some Yoga stretches with her, and she loves that, too.
So far, my system seems to be working and we get through each day without too much stress and they go home happy–which is my goal!