Monday, August 26, 2013

Preschool starts & other kiddo activities

I swing back and forth on the topic of preschool-age activities. Sometimes a twinge of alarm hits me as I realize that L & E aren’t mastering any musical instruments, competitive sports or foreign languages, and their brains are quickly moving past the sponge-like stage of early development. Other times I value our activity-free days at home and want to comb through our schedule to determine what we can cancel to give us more open space for low-key play and exploration.

In an effort to balance these competing goals, we’ve fallen into a few activities that seem to work for us. The most regular one is preschool two mornings a week. The school year starts super-early in New Mexico, so the kids have been in for two weeks now and what fun it’s been! This was Eleanor’s first year in preschool and both kids were so excited to attend together. The two-year-old and four-year-old classrooms connect with an open doorway and so Eleanor enjoys the added security of knowing Luke is close by and Luke loves watching out for little sis. Since we find it easier to teach more academic lessons at home, we chose a school that focuses on play and socialization and feel that this has been a terrific asset for our kids’ growth in those areas.

We’ve also done some indoor soccer classes, our own swimming ‘lessons’, and gymnastics classes on and off over the last couple years. And this summer we added something new, BMX riding!

Both kids have always loved being on their bikes, and last summer Luke first learned to ride his bike without training wheels and Eleanor started gliding well on her balance bike. So this year a friend introduced us to the two terrific tracks here in Albuquerque where all ages can ride bikes BMX style! Both are dirt tracks with an elevated start or ‘launch pad’, banked turns, and ‘berms’ – successive hills for you to ride up and down.

We’re still novices when it come to most things BMX, but one thing we learned early on is that a full-face helmet and good pads are essential. And what could be cuter than an Ella princess geared up to ride!

It’s a fun multi-generational activity and is a great extension of the lifelong skill of bike-riding. We’ve also been trying to use it to teach lessons about not giving up when something is hard or you’re not the best, and it’s been stretching my impulse to shelter the kids from any and all potential injury scenarios. When the kids succeed it’s such a thrill for them to conquer those hills and feel the rush of acceleration and accomplishment. We’re so proud of our little bike racing dynamo team!

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