Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Wreath, Independent play and Patience

What's with the 'patience' you wonder?

First, I've got to tell you that Rebekah has not been doing much school (well not the book work-ish type of school) as she's been a bit under the weather with a bad cold, cough etc; she is on the mend now though and we MAY open up some books tomorrow and finish off school for 2010 this week, yay!

In the meantime, she's been reading poetry, listening to Christmas carols, doing some craft, listening to her story cd's I burnt from librivox, playing with our guinea pigs, watching ants, blackbirds, our palm trees flower and we even made this wreath inspired by Rebecca (not my Rebekah):)

Rebekah's didn't quite turn out as pretty as Rebecca's but still, it was pretty good for our first attempt I thought!

Homeschooling an only child
has it's challenges though I still take my hat off to homeschooling mums of many kids, I just don't know how you do it, honestly!

One of the biggest challenges for me has been Rebekah not playing independently much and me having to teach her. Yes, I said "teaching" because it had to be taught!
Rebekah was glued to me for the first three or so years of her life and around the age of 4 she very slowly started to play by herself. It was a very very slow process! I started by finding something for her to play with, putting the kitchen timer on for five minutes and telling her to go play by herself. Sounds cruel but I had to. I knew I had to teach her to play independently (with the security of having me around) or it wasn't going to happen.
I'd heard and read about all theories relating to why she wasn't, including too much tv (no didn't do that one) or that she needed to go to pre-school as it would help (no I didn't think that was the best option) etc.
I gradually increased the time with the kitchen timer to probably about 15 minutes. I believe this definitely helped (a bit).

Then somehow just this year, after she turned six, something changed in her and she has become so much more better at independent play. She will now spend two or so hours at a stretch just playing and keeping herself entertained.
I think learning to read may have contributed or may be it was just that at the time that reading clicked in her mind she might have reached some developmental stage where independent play also clicked in her brain and became easier as well. I am no expert but my feeling is that it was partly a developmental thing, partly that she had no other siblings, partly her just needing the security of her mum and partly her personality - she is not a very strong willed or independent child, quite the opposite in fact.

Now that you've read this far so patiently and indulged me by reading more stories about me and my daughter, here's the part about "patience":) I taught Rebekah how to play Solitaire yesterday and she is SO excited!
Being an only child, she has to play either with me or her imaginary friends. Yesterday while playing "go fish" with her imaginary friend she said it was so easy to cheat if she wanted to but she wasn't going to:)
After secretly smiling at her comment I remembered the card game Solitaire that I used to play when I was young except we called it "Patience". Did you ever play that under the same name or did you call it Solitaire?
I was amazed that something so simple as this card game could bring so much joy to my little one. Her face was beaming, her eyes lit up and she said she just LOVED it (once she got the hang of it!). I think the prospect of being able to play a game designed to be played alone is what excites her. I'm sure she must tire of putting on many hats and taking her imaginary friends turns when she plays her games with them.
So, here's to more independent play for my daughter.
Are there any other games you can suggest for an only child involving cards?


Amy said...

Why haven't' you told me about librivox?? ;) I'm going to go check it out right now!

I think you've done a fabulous job with Rebekah...reading and responding to her needs. And it's paying off! If it makes you feel any better, Ava and Nate have a hard time with independent play, too. So it's not just an only child thing! In fact, I always assumed only children would be better at it!

Love that wreath!

Clara said...

My son struggles to play alone too - he's always begging his sister to play with him. She loves playing independently though, so this creates quite a lot of friction between them at times!

I don't know any card games, but I was thinking of some other things that are easily played alone. You might have already tried some of them, but I thought of some games my daughter enjoys on her own: Jenga; jigsaw puzzles; paper dolls; Monkeys in a barrel. If I think of more I'll let you know! :)

Ganeida said...

Fiddlesticks can be played alone. That's good for fine motor skills too. You may know it by another name but it is too early & I'm too tired to think. I do think independent play is partly a developmental thing. I don't think many children develope it before about 7. Sounds like you've done excellently.

Sarah said...

Love Rebekah's comment about not cheating, that is priceless! Yes, I loved patience as a kid, I played cards a lot as a child! Does Rebekah like Legos? I brought a girls set of legos for my daughter and she loved it! xxx

Jeanne said...

There are a number of variations on patience for one child. We loved 'clock patience' as kids. Google it for several variations on the rules. Otherwise, I'll teach it to Rebekah when next we meet!

Rebecca said...

Hi Rosemary, so happy to see Rebekah made the wreath from my blog!

I was thinking of Clock Patience too.

There's another one I know... I don't know what it's called though. Perhaps I can describe it:
Aim: have only the four Ace cards left on the table.
How: Deal out four cards, the start of your four piles. Discard any cards which are facing that have a higher card of the same suit also facing. E.g. if 5hearts, 7hearts, 6spades and Qclubs are the four top (facing) cards, you can take 5hearts away and put in the discard pile. When there are no more cards to take off, deal the next four cards on the four piles. Discard any cards you can, then deal four more. You can move a card onto an empty space to expose more cards. Keep going until all the cards are dealt - you win if you can take away ALL the cards except for the aces.

does that make sense? Feel free to ask questions if it doesn't :) or maybe someone else knows what this game is called!

tea said...

I loved playing solitare as a kid too. Enjoyed this post! The wreath is lovely! :)

joyfulmum said...

oh wow, you are all so lovely with all your suggestions:)
Rebecca - that game sounds great though I don't know what it's called either. I will definitely teach that to her.
Amy, I am sorry I thought you would have known about librivox. Never assume anything eh?
Ganeida - it's interesting hearing from you as you have much older kids. Some one else also was telling me recently that around 7 there is a big change in kids too. Thanks for that!
Jeanne - I am sure Rebekah would love to take you up on your offer. I will save that for our visit next year.
Clara - I was going to buy her jenga recently but she said it was too boring! but you've given me a thought about jigsaws, she does have some that I think she's outgrown, might be time to update them.
Sarah - she does have legos and will play with them but hasn't for a while, will get them out soon and remind her of them:)
Tea, I was thinking of you when I did this post:)

Jo said...

Firstly I hope Rebekah is feeling better, I too have a cold so I understand how she is feeling.

My sons are 5 years apart and Tristan spent a number of years playing on his own. I didn't need to teach him, he did it by himself. He loved playing in the garden, plaging with Lego (building me things), looking at books etc.. It must come more natural to some children.

It is tricky being an only child . . . I do pray that you find some ideas.

And all home schooling mums should get a gold star, you are all very clever ladies.