2 Years Old

Project Based Learning: Beginning a Year of Exploration

Now that Squirm has turned 2, we’re starting to explore the world of project-based homeschooling (PBH). That’s a name which feels really heavy and loaded, especially when it’s used in regards to a 2 years old, but basically it’s about committing time and resources to explore a child’s interest and helping them find ways to investigate, create and share what they know.

At 2, Squirm isn’t ready to develop a full on project like some older children do. At the moment we’re at a pure exploration stage – we’re exploring his interests (things which move), we’re exploring different ways of playing and we’re exploring different mediums of creating.

This has been surprisingly easy to organise – I bought a fabric cube for keeping things together, plus a range of art supplies (as well as ones we already had) and different kinds of paper. The most important thing we got was a journal – just an art journal – which Squirm has fallen in love with.

It was the journal which taught me my first lesson about PBH.

As a teacher, one of the hardest challenges for me was letting go of control. There are definitely times when control is essential in a classroom. But there are also times when it’s ok to let the children take control – and when I did, there were often some amazing results. But it’s easy to fall back into the old habits, and when I presented the journal to Squirm, I had definite ideas about how it was going to ‘work’.

Squirm had his own ideas.

I glued in a photo of him building a tower out of blocks. He loved seeing that in the book and talked about it and drew next to it. But then he saw some pictures of vehicles which I’d printed and cut out for him to play with. And he wanted them in his journal too. And not just on the next page, but the next 6 pages. And he’d like to use the glue stick himself.

And after a bit of panicking (he’s not following ‘the plan’!), I remembered that it was his journal, not mine. That something which he had control over would mean more to him than something which I kept under strict control. So I let go.

So far, Squirm has drawn, added stickers, glued in pictures, asked me to glue in pictures, drawn on the pictures, added colour to old drawings, skipped pages and generally had a brilliant time. I add dates and notes where I can, and participate if he asks me too (mostly with sticking), but it’s his creation. And you can see him trying out different things when he draws – he moved from scribbles, to spirals, to trying to make shapes in a couple of days. He went back and looked at old pages and added to them. He spent time just looking through the journal.

It’s going to be a challenge to curb my teacher-control impulses – but I can definitely see the benefits of doing so. And I think this is going to be a fun year.

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Letters to Squirm: Now You Are Two

Dear Squirm,

I missed writing you a letter on your second birthday earlier this month. It’s been another busy one – filled with birthday visits for you (and your grandfather) and unfortunately with illness – we’re only just getting back on track again.

The last six months have been difficult as a family. Your dad has been working overseas for four or five weeks at a time, then coming home for a week. You miss him lots, especially right after he goes, but we talk with him on Skype every morning and try to spend lots of fun times together when he’s at home.

You’re speaking a lot now. You have a pretty big vocabulary and put sentences together regularly. You have a few favourite sayings – ‘whoopsie daisy’ and ‘carry up’ among them. You use your vocabulary to ask for things, but you’ve also learned how to say please and thank you regularly.

Your sleep has changed dramatically during the last 6 months. You now sleep through the night in your own bed and have just started putting yourself to sleep which feels revolutionary. Your naps have also become longer which seems counter-intuitive as you are getting older. You still eat a lot of food, though you have become pickier and I need to be more aware of offering a wide range of foods so you get all your nutritional needs.

You like to go for walks a lot – you love holding my hand or daddy’s hand and heading out somewhere. You also love helping, especially when it comes to cooking. You helped make biscuits the other week and did a wonderful job.

Trains and trucks and cars are still big interests. You love watching Mighty Machines, though you change your favourite episodes regularly (from Firetrucks to Ferries to Roadwork). You also enjoy Thomas and Friends, Pocoyo, Peppa Pig and Postman Pat. You have lots of favourite books, and you also rotate though these. You sometimes ‘read’ along with us and love cuddling in for your bedtime read. You’re starting to sing more – mostly with music but there’s a few songs you sing without accompaniment – Twinkle Twinkle, The Alphabet song (though only ABCD – then the last line!) and Down by the Station. You’re starting to count too and love it when we find things to count.

We had a wonderful day for your birthday, heading to the Rail Workshop Museum at Ipswich. It was a weekday, so the museum was quiet and you had a wonderful time exploring, driving trains, colouring and playing. You began to understand how birthday cakes worked too – and spent a lot of time calling out for them!

You’re a wonderful, energetic, creative, thoughtful boy and we’re loving getting to know your interests and thoughts and preferences. We’re looking forward to watching you grow over the next year.

Love

Mum

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