Happy 5th Birthday! Jamie holds aloft his favourite presents - two new Little Einsteins movies. His little sister Hannah wonders where her presents seem to have got to...
Well, our little lad Jamie turned five today. An auspicious occasion indeed in a little boy's life... I remember running around on my 5th birthday in a super-dooper batman outfit, and it would seem this thing for dressing up has to some extent been passed on to the next generation (you'll find out more about that below!).
In any case, this week also marked Jamie's move to a new kindergarten - a brand new one much closer to where we have recently moved. I am wildly impressed with this place (mainly because Jamie is, to be honest), and had a really fascinating discussion with Jamie's new teacher about our shared belief in an emergent curriculum for younger learners. To my absolute delight, watching this teacher's "classroom" in action reveals this is not just "talk" - she doesn't just practice what she preaches, she does it masterfully.
Taking an "emergent" approach with children comes naturally to a lot of parents, I think, and our selection of birthday gifts for Jamie this year is a pretty good reflection of this. But as with anything, I think it becomes deceptively easy (for parents and teachers) to take certain things for granted and not really explore and extend "good practice" as far as we might.
So, to that end, I have a favour to ask YOU, dear blog reader!
Below, I am going to show you a couple of Jamie's birthday presents which were especially chosen based on interests and "passions" he has been demonstrating a lot of late. The challenge for me as a parent is to not just move on and figure I've catered to these particular "emergences" of interests (by simply doing a bit of birthday shopping), but to see what I can do to help him explore them further and capitalise on opportunities to learn.
I hope you will take a look at Jamie's emerging interests and give me some creative suggestions about what I might do to facilitate more interaction and exploration of said interests. I have already tried a variety of things, but I thought I would throw the doors open and see what drifts in from my readers!
1. Flags of the World
Jamie's interest in flags has actually been ongoing for years, ever since he became aware he was a member of a bicultural family, with two places on the world map to call home and two very different flags to wave.
That interest has grown in leaps and bounds and was recently set alight when he saw an episode of Little Einsteins featuring the United Nations building and all the different country flags outside it. Suddenly he's interested in all the flags and countries he can "get his hands on" and a common hobby for him is to sit and draw different flags on paper, sometimes referring to flag charts his mother finds for him on her laptop. He can already name several European and Asian countries and identify them by their flags.
For Jamie's birthday, we got him an assortment of about 40 different mini flags from countries all over the world - about half of which he knows and the remainder representing what we thought would be new ones for him to ask and think about. They are cloth prints attached to little wooden poles about 25 cm long, and there are also some little stands he can place them in. We also got an assortment of those little cocktail flags attached to toothpicks (which we figured could be fun in terms of combining his love of flags with different countries' cuisines!), and a wall poster with a map of the world and many flags assorted around the border.
So, what do you think we could do to help him extend this interest in flags and foreign countries to explore things further?
2. Constable James Renshaw
At some point recently, Jamie decided he wanted to be a police officer. In a strictly part-time role of course... Happily, we've noticed that he's become fixed on the concept of protecting, helping and maintaining safety standards around the house, out in the yard, and even out on the roads when we drive somewhere. I've copped more than my fair share of on-the-spot fines for perceived driving infringements (like failing to tell a dog to be careful, failing to tell a traffic light what colour it should turn next, and failing to salute and beep my horn when a police car passed us coming in the other direction).
This passion for law and order and protection appears to be - at least in part - an expression of what he sees as his role as big brother to a little sister who is trotting about and getting herself into all sorts of strife.
Our birthday gift to reflect this interest was (as you can see above) a rather spiffing new police uniform!
Got any ideas on what we could do to extend and capitalise on this interest in law and order?
3. Jamie Potter
Jamie is fascinated with the Harry Potter movies (though we've only showed him some of the earlier ones up to this point) and the whole idea of magic and wands in particular. He makes a wand out of just about anything, and when not playing the back seat police officer role, likes to be a back seat Harry Potter. He changes the colours of other cars, does magic to change the traffic lights, casts spells to have me turn left or right (these do tend to backfire on him from time to time...). Around the house, he casts spells on his little sister (mostly kind ones, thank goodness), "magicks" up amazing pictures, or even manages to make things disappear and reappear (including morsels of dinner sometimes, which is a bit unfortunate).
His spell-casting powers are obviously formiddable, because he even manages to make his father perform all sorts of actions (which might be translated as being high energy around-the-house TPR lessons!).
Jamie's birthday gift in response to this emergent interest was (as you can see above) a full Gryffindor get-up, complete with wand and Potter spectacles.
Where do you think we might be able to go with this one, then? Magic knows no bounds, after all...
I hope you'll be able to come up with some creative ideas to help us further explore and extend these emergent interests of Jamie.
He and his family would consider them 5th birthday gifts of the very best sort!