Monthly Archives: February 2011

Here Be Dragons

Over the last fortnight, MG has watched How To Train Your Dragon four times. This might be why I have dragons on the brain, but in this post I mean it as a journey into the unknown – blogging, working towards being a stay-at-home-mum, trying to be child-led and discovering that I have to throw away a lot of what I think almost daily in the process.

I play with computers, there have been computers in my life since I was eight – which in the early 1980’s was not the norm. I potter about online and get most of my general knowledge from the internet now – I have rarely ever read newspapers and I barely watch television (apart from CBeebies, and a selection of programmes chosen by MG) these days. And yet, I like natural toys. I don’t see why small children need to be exposed to computers when my generation didn’t have them, but we still grew up to work in IT. I like rag dolls, wooden trains, building blocks, puzzles, natural materials. I avoid too much plastic (Lego doesn’t count as plastic), anything electronic, TV or film tie-ins. Montessori philosophy appeals to me because of the beautiful materials, the child-led philosophy, the nurture of courtesy and practical skills and the respect for children’s intelligence.

So… MG loves fairy tales and dressing up. She loves sparkly pink plastic tat, plastic “slippers” to play Cinderella (“You be the prince, Mummy…”), plastic jewellery, and she’ll watch television every waking moment if I let her. DG likes toys that light up and make noises, emulating her sister and is entranced by Waybuloo. Sigh… And they both love, just love, playing with my laptop.

I never let them touch the computer, I didn’t see the need for them to use one. Of course, they saw Mummy and Daddy using computers all the time. Ocassionally I’d let them play with something online (Craymachine is a favourite, as is Mister Maker Magic Painbox) but mainly the only use of the laptop for them is watching Octonauts or Doctor Who on iPlayer – and that’s only been in the last year.

Last May, on holiday, I let MG (3 years, 3 months at the time) properly use my laptop. And from only observing, she had perfect mousepad skills and could select and click with little guidance. This week, I let her on Starfall ABC’s for the first time alone (and the first time we’d looked at the site in almost a year), and she got it immediately. She could navigate to what she wanted, work through the screens and do the end puzzle – she repeatedly chose the letter K which ends with a maze, and sucessfully navigated the maze with only being told that she needed to click on the arrow pictures. I didn’t know she knew how to do mazes. I didn’t know she understood arrows as directions. I didn’t know she was that comfortable with using a mousepad as I hardly ever let her on my laptop.

I guess this is child-led. She enjoyed and got something out of using an interactive site. I want to do learning with books, with physical manipulatives, with natural materials. I think I may need to let go of some of this, and truly follow my child – even if I really didn’t want her to be a TV-obsessed computer geek (like her parents :lol:)