A while ago, I read an article that claimed that when siblings are close together in age, the older one turns out stoopid because Mum was too busy feeding the baby to drill the toddler on its times tables. My kids are 18 months apart. Ouch - poor, doomed Curly Girlie.
Naturally, and probably with an enormous amount of good reason, I poo-pooed this article.
Months and months later, though, it still niggles. My fevered little mind keeps poo-pooing my poo-poo.
Does Curly Girlie get enough mental stimulation? After all, we don’t have crayons in the house any more, because baby brother Alpha Blondie believes they are edible. Jigsaw puzzles are rarely completed without vital last pieces being held hostage by... him. Role plays in the mini shopping centre invariably hit a snag when Alpha refuses to let any of the products out of his grasp.
Like any 21st-century mum, I turn to the Internet for reassurance (goodness only knows why, when that was the source of my initial worries, but we’ll let that go...).
On the one hand, this CNN article about how to prevent stress in kids was balm for a sore conscience. “A young child’s job is to play” it assured me. “Competitive anxieties get induced in a lot of children because they’re induced in a lot of parents”.
Well, quite - the kid is only three. Get off her back, Mum.
But my niggle remained. I decided to assign a short period each day for focused learning activities. That was several days ago, though, and the decision has not resulted in any noticeable action... It’s fine - when she starts school, I’ll just tell them that I meant to teach her to tie her own shoe laces but then got, you know, all distracted.
In fairness, I’m not a teacher and I don’t have much spare time to design educational games that will simultaneously engage the young one while challenging the older one. Most days, I’m little more than a referee, chauffeur and dinner lady rolled into one faintly-irritated package.
But then I came across this great site, 1plus1plus1=1 and her concept of Tot School. Inspired by Montessori techniques, the site advocates “focused time each day on the tot”. Hang on, isn’t that what I...? Ah, yes...
Look at this: downloadable planning and assessment forms (I love filling out forms); a shopping list of craft items (I love lists); all manner of things that you can print and laminate (I love stationary). Can I get a laminator, can I, please, please, please?
Never mind ‘making education fun for the kids’ - what about making it fun for the adults? Fire up the brains, kids, Mum’s got all inspired.