Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Current Interests: Writing/Word Building/Reading, Gymnastics, Social

I wanted to record some of my daughter's current interests and areas of growth at 28 months.

We got my daughter the Leap Frog Talking Word Factory DVD for Christmas, and she LOVES it.  If we let her, she would watch it 5 times a day.  We've limited it to once a day at most, but since we got the DVD she has become incredibly enthusiastic about figuring out how to build words and write.  Her writing is mostly scribbles, but it has become much more precise from her tireless, self-initiated practice.  She can now make a pretty good "M" and a relatively big "O."  Once she somewhat accomplished writing the word "MOM."  As for building words, I am astonished at how she really is getting this.  We have the big letter mats that stick together on the floor like puzzle pieces, and she is engaged for hours making words with them.  Like, she'll say, "Let's make the word 'hat'!"  And so I say, "What letters do we need?" and, often to my persistent shock, she knows.  If she doesn't know, I can make the h sound and say, "What letter says this?"  and she instantly knows and locates the H.  She also likes building words with the Leap Frog Word Whammer.  And then there is always good old pencil and paper - she'll scribble a word and then hand it to me and tell me to write a word, and we'll practice recognizing the words I write.  (As a side note, she is currently playing in the bath tub, making letter sounds into words "C-c-c-c-c-CAT!"  She is so super into this right now.)    

Her other big interest right now is gymnastics.  We enrolled her in a toddler mommy and me gymnastics class just as something to do that is active through the cold months, and she LOVES figuring out new little skills at home.  It is amazing to watch her grow physically - it is like watching her figure out how to crawl and walk all over again.  One day she can't do something, then she sees and wants to do it, then she tries to do it, and then she can do it!

She also is figuring out how to play with other kids.  She's always had a social bent, but being an only-child two-year-old she can be pretty possessive of whatever toy she is playing with.  She has grown tremendously in this regard over the past few months.  She self-identifies new friends who she meets and likes to play with.  She shares without prompting (sometimes).  She is polite when she speaks ("please" and "thank you" - sometimes).  I'm not entirely sure how else to describe this progress, but I see it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Toddler Gymnastics

We started taking little gymnastics classes, and we're having tons of fun working on the activities at home.  I wanted to record them:

1.  Stretches 
- Butterfly:  sitting, put soles of feet together, hold the feet, and bounce knees.  It took her a few times to get the coordination to do the bouncing.
- Forward stretch:  still sitting, stretch legs out in front of body, grab the ankles, put nose to knees and then peek up (peek-a-boo!)
- With legs still outstretched, spread them out as far into "split" position as able, then walk hands forward and "peek-a-boo" up again
- Table - With feet on floor in front and hands on the floor in back, stick up belly to make a "table."  (It's the position for the crab walk).  Today we started trying to do the crab walk (walking on legs and hands backwards with belly stuck up in the air in table position), and she has made great progress.  This is a challenge for this age group, and great for learning coordination.
- Standing, slide down as far into split position as able.  My daughter calls this "making a house."

2.  Tumbling
- Jumping:  Leg strength.  
-  On the floor, we jump for a few seconds.  Then she tries to jump while twirling around.  Very difficult.  But tons of fun.
- Put really thin straight somethings (we use long blocks, at the gym they call them "french fries") on the floor, and have her jump over them. 
- We also put her old crib mattress on the floor and we let her jump on it.  
- At the little indoor gym nearby, she jumps on the trampoline, too.  
- During gymnastics class the kids jump down a really long trampoline and jump into a pit of soft square pillow-like things. 
- Somersaults:  Courage.  I'm unclear if this is really okay to do under the age of 3.  Seems to be a bit of debate over the readiness of the toddler back for it.  On the other hand, I see toddlers putting their heads to the ground and trying to roll forward all the time.  The first gymnastics place we tried had them doing lots of flips (while spotted) and the second place not at all.  At the very least, I'm not encouraging the forward roll until I at least learn how to spot her.
- Handstand:  Arm strength.  The age to introduce this seems to be debated, too.  I let her put her hands on the floor and walk her legs up the wall behind her.  I have her keep her weight on her arms (instead of the neck) by not putting her head down on the ground - she does a true supported and spotted HAND stand.

3.  Bar:  GREAT for arm strength and abs.  
- She hold onto the bar and swings back and forth.  
- I or the teacher bring her toes to touch them to the bar where her arms are - once she can do this herself it will be great for her abs.  
- Have her "push up" (lots of help given) and balance on the beam with her arms straight - she has an amazing ability to balance on this thing, but a more difficult time keeping her arms straight (and issue of strength building)

4.  Balance Beam: balance and leg muscles
- Walk across beam, with someone holding both of her hands to support her.  She does this great, like she's on the floor.
- Walk sidewise.  Step, and then bring feet together, across the beam, facing the side.

5.  Vault 
-  First gym helped her jump and then somersault down a mat.  Second gym just has them jumping off the vault onto a picture of a cute frog on the floor.

6.  Swing: arms
- Holding onto a single rope attached to a really, really small circular swing that gives very little support, swing back and forth.  To stay on, have to use arms.

7.  The new gym has a little bar on the ground that you grab and then kick up backwards.  Very difficult for them.  To help her with this, at home I turned one of her little folding chairs upside down, and there is a bar there just the right size for her to grab.  She hasn't gotten yet the "kick backward" concept, so I have her put her legs up backward on the little table behind her.  Works the arms, gives her the concept of at least lifting her legs backward, and she loves doing it.

At home we:
Practice our tables and crab walk.
Jump on mattress and roll (sidewise, not somersault) off
Wall handstand 
Backwards kick (modified for now)
I put a long thin thing on the floor at let her practice the beam on it.
Jumping over the "french fries."