Got a million things on your mind?
I Do. Man, I sure do.
For those who know me, I'm a HUGE list maker.
My mind is always swirling with endless thoughts. Like a messy closet, it's good to just routinely clear out and re-sort. That's how I see "THE TO DO LIST." Dump out whats floating, sort out the thoughts by priority, check it off as needed. Knowing what's ahead settles stress and anxiety and avoids the undue burden of keeping it all in your head.
When life gets tough, grab a pen and paper.
Such is the curriculum of "Tools of the Mind", a particular teaching technique as mentioned in the book Nurture Shock.
"TOTM is a research-based early childhood program that builds strong foundations for school success in preschool and kindergarten children by promoting their intentional and self-regulated learning."
Key Words noted? Intentional Self-Regulated Learning.
Wow, right up my Montessori alley!
It's not so much completing the goals of all the presentations I show. That's just the details. The REAL joy is that my child is learning how to govern himself. I want to give him tools that are helpful to his success in daily life, to make good choices, to know what is best for himself. For as cute as it is to see him sort marbles, I'm the happiest knowing that he's learning reasoning skills and an understanding of the physical & conceptual world in order for him to resolve problems that arise, WITHOUT my assistance. We all know that we can't be with our children forever, so what do we want to leave them with?
The TO DO LIST works for me, so why not for my toddler? I found a calendar that breaks out the day into hour-slots. This works best since we can list a task for each hour. A black pen for me to write events, a green marker (or your choice) for him to cross out as he completes the task.
A conceptual understanding of time and sequence of events
1) Daily calendar that has hour breakdowns
2) One black/blue pen
3) One colored marker
1) Have your child come close next to you
2) Talk through the day's events and start with breakfast
3) Go slowly and narrate each task, ask the child if that's a "good thing to do?"
4) Once they agree to the task, write it down
5) Feel free to verbally spell words out as you write them.
6) Draw pictograms or symbols next to the task to trigger child's memory
7) As items are complete, invite the child to come cross out each task so he gets a sense of time, progression, and sequence of events
After the first few days, I realized that I needed to draw "Pic-to-grams" next to my list items. I'm not an artist, but my little chicken scratches helped tremendously. Since Zozie can't read yet, it was difficult for him to refer back to "What's Next?" Once I started to draw little symbols while saying the task, it stuck like HONEY. Zo would be able to recall events that happened a week ago, simply by "reading" his list and seeing the pictures. Example: I drew a small cat face next to a playdate where the host house had a cat in their neighbor's yard...a week later, Zozie saw the appointment and said "I already played at N's house last time!" just by seeing the cat's face.
The results were immediate. Zo would wake up in the morning and ask for his list. "What's on my list today mama?" If I say an event, he would ask if it's on our list, or what time it's on our list. And if he deviates from what we write down (not wanting to get dressed, or not eat dinner yet), I would refer him back to his TO DO list and he would actually comply! *Shock* "It's not time for puzzles Zozie, the list says it's time to get dressed, right?" "Oh yeah, right!" (Then he goes to get clothes).
Of course there are "open" tasks as one can't possibly schedule out every second of the day. In those times, I write down the "biggest" task (ie. Play with trains), and if he happened to do a few other things, it's not a deal breaker.
The peace and clam that comes with knowing what's next is incredible. A simple list, created with a child, for that child, clarifies the confusing world. Again, intentional & self regulating. A perfect pairing with our Montessori homeschool!
Crossing off the TO DO list: