Sunday, 14 February 2016

We're the Kids - Developing Fine Motor Skills

Sometimes I feel like that stereotypical dude.  The one who begrudges his girlfriend's drawer space in his condo, even though they've been dating for years.  I am that guy who freaks out when the eye make-up remover and jumbo sized box of tampons shows up in my medicine cabinet, except my condo is our living room and the medicine cabinet is my beloved book shelves.

As a parent I face a constant struggle to maintain a house that is both kid friendly and doesn't resemble the inside of Pee-Wee's Playhouse.  It is a very fine balance.  In the persistent war on adult space vs. kiddie land, the minions planted a victory flag in our living room this weekend when I relinquished two book shelves in favour of an arts and crafts centre in our living room.

Our living room craft centre

How did we make the space?  Let's just say that Mr. Stephen King and Ms. Anne Rice now live in our garage inside a wall of orange lockers.  Sorry guys, at least the door is insulated.

The minions have officially completed their first six months of JK and Chris and I attended our first ever parent teacher meeting.  The focus of our meeting was to discuss the progress of both Molly and Jack, and to determine the things that we need to do to help get them reading, writing, and math ready for their entrance into grade one, just a year and a half away.

We've never been flash card parents, or tiger parents, who are big on structured play, spending most of our time together on weekends having adventures, discovering our city, and the world around us as a family.  On weekdays after school and work Chris and I drink tea, cuddle on the couch with the kids, make dinner together, let the kids play, watch some TV, and then enjoy some story time before bed. It's lazy, but it works for us.  Unfortunately it means we're doing very little towards boosting their formal education.

Nowadays all little kids need to work on their fine motor skills, letter recognition, and social skills to be able to cope at school.  Social skills are developed by playing with other kids, learning how to share, and play games.  But what about the fine motor skills?  Since this is something we have literally put zero effort into so far, on Friday night we went out to the dollar store with the minions and got working on creating a craft, art and learning centre that could be enjoyed in our living room (while we drink tea and cuddle).   This is why Mrs. Lestat and Mr. Misery got their eviction notices.

A whiteboard drawing of Daddy

The idea is that this space will act as an organized, accessible space for Molly and Jack to learn, but not feel pressured to do so.  School is long and they're pretty whipped by the end of the day.  This way if Molly and Jack want to use the items, they can, but if they'd rather wrestle Daddy Monster on the couch, this is also an option. Below is our shopping list for our craft centre.  All of these items should help develop fine motor skills, and give them the extra time they need to learn, all while allowing us to sip tea, sit on the couch, and hopefully prevent our front room from becoming a giant eye sore.

  1. Pipe cleaners (for bending twisting and tying into knots)
  2. Stickers for peeling and sticking.
  3. Safety Scissors (for practicing cutting paper, not hair or furniture, we'll see how that goes).
  4. A white board and dry erase markers
  5. Assorted paper
  6. Colouring books
  7. Magnetic drawing boards with erasers
  8. Foam stickers in the shapes of numbers and letters
  9. Stamps
  10. Crayons, markers and pencil crayons
  11. Modelling clay and playdough 
  12. Plastic bins and buckets for storage
So far the centre has been a success and Molly and Jack are happily working on their skills without feeling pressure.  The sparkled pipe cleaners and clay, along with the white board have been the most coveted items.  My panic attacks on giving up my personal space have been minimal, but only time will tell if I'm scrubbing marker off of walls and trying to fix self-cut hair.

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