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Old 01-21-2013, 11:16 AM
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nothingwithoutjoy nothingwithoutjoy is offline Member
Join Date: May 2012
Location: New England
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Originally Posted by Heidi View Post
Are the older children generally good about keeping these things out of reach of the littles? Do you have to redirect the littles if they get in the way of a tea party, for instance?
They make a good attempt, but I had to keep a close eye. What they're really good at is telling me when the babies do something they shouldn't--they love being the big kid who knows better. And yes, I was usually wherever the baby was, to intervene if necessary and to keep a close eye. But I could leave the room for a few minutes to pee or cook or something.

I also see you have a lot of books in low places. How do you prevent a mobile infant from doing the old "sweep?"
When my kids were mostly little, the books were mostly board books. I would model careful use and would put things away if they were heaping up and in danger of getting trampled, but I wanted books in their hands, so I wasn't obsessive about it. I rarely had a child just clear the shelf, and if I did, I'd calmly replace them, explaining they should go there to keep them safe and reminding them to choose the ones they wanted to read. I only remember 2 times when a child deliberately tore a book. Books are sacred in this house, and they learn it quickly! But as with most things, I think kids pretty much live up to our expectations. I give them beautiful things and trust that they'll treat them well; they see that trust and try their best. (For the same reason, if books get torn or a flap is missing, I mend it right away or remove it.)

So, if you have a mobile infant, do they just cruise around, pulling things out?
Yup. That's partly why there are so few toys. If pulling out every single toy would overwhelm the room, then there are too many toys. It's also why I wouldn't want an infant now--I have way too many toys out and they'd hear "no" all the time: yuk.

What about the older children, is it clean-as-you-go, do you have a group clean up, or a blend? Do the kiddos drag things from one area to another? Making, lets say, "block soup?"
Yes, lots of block soup and huge messes. I should post a mid-day picture! I don't generally do clean-as-you-go for a few reasons. First, I don't want to interrupt the flow of their play. I want focus and long attention spans, and I sabotage those if I have constant interruptions. Second, I think mixing toys (block soup) is far more valuable than you-must-use-it-this-way. In fact, I have no "food" in my kitchen at all, because I prefer them to use their creativity. Creativity is higher on my priorities than neatness. Third, if a child starts something (maybe a block building) and abandons it to move on to something else, someone else might see it and get inspired to add to it--maybe even someone who wouldn't have thought to use blocks otherwise. I love the "conversation" that happens through materials that way. We clean up before moving on to the next major thing (going outside, or nap, or going home). But I do do a lot of tidying myself around them as they play, not the stuff they're actively using or have left in some interesting set-up, but the stuff in the way. And if they've just heaped a bunch of stuff and are off to heap somewhere else, I'll sometimes ask them to put some stuff away first, especially if it makes it hard to move around.

How often do you change out the toys?
It varies. Favorite things might stay there for months. Some things are always there. Other things I move out as I see they're not being used, or to make space for a new interest, maybe every few weeks. For example, there's recently been a lot of interest in letters, so I added scrabble tiles and alphabet cards and put away a few things to make room. I'll often set up something intriguing (a "provocation") on the coffee table, and that might change every few days, based on how they respond.

Do you provide a lot of guidance on how to use them? For instance, the stacking you show them what they are for, or let them discover for themselves?
No. I'll intervene if I think what they're doing is unsafe for others or for the material, but otherwise, open-ended exploration.

What kind of jars are those on the upper shelves? Glass, right? How big are they?
Mostly vintage quart canning jars, because I happened to have a lot. I'd prefer something bigger for some things, but mostly, that's a good size. Also, canning jars are strong and don't easily break. (6 1/2 years and they haven't broken one yet.)

Originally Posted by Heidi View Post
Oh...where do the children eat? At the "big" table with boosters and such, or do you have a small one?
Oh, yeah, I should photograph that. We don't have space for a kitchen table, but I have two fold-up tables (similar to this) on the kitchen wall at kid height, with kid-sized chairs. Infants ate on my lap until they could sit unsupported, then sat in a chair with a fabric seat-belt sort of thing until they could sit without it.

Haven't forgotten your other questions. Will get there! :-)
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