Thursday, March 8, 2012

Soup Day and sunshine

Chop...chop. Chippity-Chop...cut off the bottoms and cut off the tops
what we have left we'll put in the pot.

(our chopping song on Soup day!)

Soup Day was not always the favorite around here, but it is slowly gaining popularity here as one of the favorite meals of the week! We've tweaked our recipe a few times and I'm thinking it's starting to taste like something to really be excited about:) The children have also joined in preparing the soup with more vigor as the weeks go by.

As the children arrive, I'm already at work chopping. They are invited to join in by the way of materials waiting for them at their seat...if they should chose to help, they may. If there is something else they wish to do, that is just as well. Eventually, they all join in, but with no formal instruction or "invitation".

Our Barley and Vegetable Soup Recipe:
(one of my first original recipes!)

-I don't really measure anything out, so bear with me...

-2 or 3 potatoes, chopped
-2 or 3 carrots, chopped
-3 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed
-salt, pepper, parsley to taste
-1/2 cup of green peas
-1/2 cup or so of barley
-2 cups of vegetable stock
-1/3 cup of tomato paste or sauce

Saute vegetables, garlic, and spices until translucent and fragrant. (A good reminder that soup day is here!)
Add the remainder  of the ingredients and stir on low heat.
Cook for about 45 minutes...serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese!

(I can not get over the sweetness of this photo. I just had to say!)

This photo was taken after W hit someone. I've had plenty of opportunities to think about and practice discipline during the past few weeks especially. W has been doing a fair amount of hitting and I observe that it is starting to make some of the other children feel uncomfortable and maybe even afraid....such as, when they see him coming, they sometimes duck...or flinch? Oh boy. While there will always be conflicts between playmates, I don't want this feeling to become part of our environment. 
My tactic is this:
When W hits, I come over and "sportscast" "You just hit _______" I give the other child a hug or gently touch where they have been hit. Sometimes "boo boo" cream is applied to the area by W from our "boo boo basket", or an ice pack is brought over by W.  I pick W up and bring him in the kitchen with me, closing a child gate behind me. The first time I did this, the children assumed he was in trouble. I explained that W needed something else to do at the time; he'd be back soon. "Our hands are gentle" is usually all I say...he is then guided to some kind of work I am doing in the kitchen. Like stirring the soup pot (supervised), adding spices....

...bringing the bread to the oven...

Or something else purposeful. After a few minutes, the gate is opened and he's back out playing. Usually, another problem does not ensue....but when it does, he's back in the kitchen with me after all is dealt with in the above manner. This way, he is given a task while the other children can focus on their work, whether it is playing or cleaning up..

I know that W needs my attention during the playschool day. Sometimes it is such a hard time for him. I try my best to make time for us to just sit and be together throughout the day....this is also important so he doesn't equate hitting with a result of "mama alone time". Hitting is an unwanted behavior, but I think it always stems from something....I've stated it before, and not everyone agrees, but I don't believe that a child truly and inwardly knows the difference between true right and wrong until later in childhood. They know how we as parents and caregivers react to a certain behavior; what we say, what we do, what we tell them...but to truly know inside yourself that something is wrong? A 2.5 year old is not there yet. W does not always look upset when he hits...sometimes it is to get someones attention, sometimes, I believe, he just doesn't have control of his arms and legs yet; they just flail all over. I try my hardest (and sometimes it is hard) to not show emotion, especially, anger or shock, when he hits. It's way easier for me when it is a child who is not my own flesh and blood....but then again, it's much easier to be a teacher than it is to be a parent.

 Anyhow, we are having unseasonably warm weather here and the sunshine is doing everyone good:)
There is nothing quite like the smell of a head of sundrenched hair after a morning spent entirely outdoors.


  1. Aw, such warm sunny photos! I also love the photo of the little girl in the apron. So lovely. My eldest was a hitter. And my youngest does when he feels threatened in sharing toys, but not nearly as much as the eldest did. You sound like you're doing a great job in handling it in a gentle way.

  2. Have to try that soup! Seems like you had a lovely day!

  3. I love the aprons, wooden bowls and the mops of curly blonde hair!

  4. Thank you for describing so thoroughly your process of addressing your child's hitting. It sounds respectful and peaceful. I was just wishing yesterday that there were like-minded mama/teachers out there who could share techniques for balancing that trickiest part--your own child's needs and the needs of the other children. I feel lucky to have come across your post today when I needed it.

  5. Thank you for the recipe for barley soup. I usually prepare barley with sweet ingrediences (right now rougly grinded into semolina and cooked in chai tea together with dried apricots, dates, a couple of banana chips and chopped almonds and sweetened with stevia is my favourite) but I certainly give this one a try on next tuesday!

    And I certainly agree with your thoughts on morale in little children. In this age they have the hard, hard endeavour of growing - physically and mentally. Internal realisation for right and wrong apart from taking the behaviour of parents/caregivers as 'right' won't come until later. Besides, they learn by trial-and-error :) And ... the time around 3 years is the time they begin to test their boundaries. I admire the way you reflect about it and, much more, react on it.

    Blessings to you :)

  6. I love this post and your approach with the children. I do find that it helps to direct their attention to how the other child feels and model caring gentle behaviour. I think i use too many words at times though. I have an almost two year old, and hope to have a home daycare myself some day soon. I get a lot of inspiration from you.

  7. Thanks for writing about the way you handle your child when he his hitting. My nearly two year old boy is constantly pulling other childrens hair and I always have to deal with it when other children are around. I try to be patient with him, but sometimes it is relly hard.

    I totally agree with you than children until the age of five don´t fully understand whats wrong. Piaget also underlines this, because children develop empathy during their 5. year.

    It is good to see that there are other children who also behave like this, because I notice that people tell my boy that he is naughty or even scream at him, which makes me really sad.

    I really like to read your blog your a big inspiration to me.
    Thanks, Sabine

  8. I love to read your stories end the way you describe the positive interference. I get even more convinced it works what we do. It may take some time, but i'm sure it's good

  9. O, and I'll definitely try your soup, sounds delicious!

  10. I was wondering if you have a time during the school day that is just for you and W? Maybe your assistant can watch the other children (while they are napping or whatever) and you have some W time, where you cuddle with him, nurse him...any kind of one-on-one nurturing behavior that helps him feel connected with you in a positive way and that is in the rhythm and not as a consequence to a behavior. Over time that may help him a bit more. Maybe in the morning before the children come and then during the school day and then after. Maybe that could help him go through this stage. Just a suggestion to add to your already wonderful mothering. Blessings, Elizabeth

  11. How about you calling him in at certain times to spend 5 minutes with you/helping you/being special to you... if he knows that if he hits, you'll call in him for special time with you - how about preventing it by every hour calling him in to spend some mommy time with you... then explain to him that if he hits, he will not be called in for his mommy time for the next time, that his hands need time to be gentle out with the other children.

  12. I'm thinking the two pps have a good idea. As you're describing it, his hitting behavior--whether or not he is developmentally capable of understanding it as "wrong"--is actually being consistently rewarded with special time alone with you. And what mama-loving kid wouldn't want that?! I know it's got to be hard to find that balance as you mother your own child and also strive to simultaneously provide what the other children need while they're under your care.

  13. I've been thinking about your situation, and how hard it must be for you as you try to find a way to honor your beliefs about child-rearing while dealing with W's challenging behavior in your group environment and watching the other children cringe when they see your little one approaching. (Our kids do have a way of making us question every choice, don't they?) Do you still have the helper that you have mentioned in the past? If so, perhaps she could be the one to calmly and firmly remove W from the scene, find something else for him to do, and remain with him until he's ready to rejoin the group. As you rightly pointed out, it's way easier to be detached and serene when it's somebody else's child. Besides giving you a break, it would perhaps also be a way of avoiding the "reward for hitting" situation. I mean, as it is now, when he hits somebody he not only gets you all to himself, but the other kids are barred from the scene by the child gate, he gets special little jobs to do, and he even gets his picture taken!
    I was also thinking about what a poster said a few weeks ago; she described her experience in providing care for a couple of children in her home, and told of how very hard that was for one of her children who, as an introvert, just wasn't temperamentally suited to that situation. I love what you said about having a bath with your son as soon as everyone has left, and "washing the day away." I'm sure you are doing 100 other little things to make him feel secure and special. But it might be that the situation of sharing you and your home with a group of other children every day just isn't something that he can manage at this point.
    In any case, you are in my prayers.

  14. I would love to come and visit your kindergarden some day!

  15. Hi. Love that the children help so much in the kitchen and love the idea of soup day. Was wondering if you could suggest an appropriate knife for little ones to handle that will actually cut the vegetables.


I love to hear from you! I read and appreciate all feedback.. Thanks for stopping by!