I come from a long line of the most stubborn people you’ll ever meet. Although I don’t think anybody really likes being told what to do, I recognize my family takes that resistance to another level. My children are no exception. I’ve learned to be strategic when there’s something I want them to explore because I see it could be beneficial to their mental or physical development. I like to practice "strewing" at night.
Strewing is the art of setting out activities for my children when they aren't looking and making them feel like it was their idea to explore it when they discover it.
For example, rather than say "let’s practice our ABC’s together", I will serve a bowl of Alphabet soup and see if they notice and join in the marvel with them. Or, rather than say "let's practice counting money", I will set a grocery bag of canned food on the living room floor with some coins and a couple of wallets with monopoly money inside. It works like magic!
When my children wake up in the morning they instantly gravitate to this new item they have come across. Feeling the freedom to explore, what could’ve been 15 minutes of grueling teaching at the table, becomes an hour of free play that they enjoy so thoroughly they come back to it over and over again throughout the day. This doll house as an example, was a fabulous freebie that we have shared in rotation with friends to keep the appeal ongoing for months and months. It has been the basis for many strewing concepts. Even our Easter Eggs were hidden in here!
Often times in the evening after the kids are in bed, I use the living room carpet as my palate creating the next potential for their play in the morning. It could be as time consuming as a train set with the track already pieced together.
Or, It could be a maze, waiting for the first drop of a marble.
Sometimes it is even something as simple as a water table that has been scrubbed clean with fresh water added awaiting the unsuspecting passerby.
I remember Mark picking up this Craigslist vintage kitchen freebie (as most of our toys are), and bringing it into the house while the kids were fast asleep. It continues to be an all time favorite despite taking up more space than I'd like to sacrifice in our small living room.
I love strewing. It's a peaceful way to get them to explore something new without pressure. Sometimes they make up their own games with the concept, sometimes they do exactly what I had thought they would. Overall, I have yet to have anything be completely ignored. Denzel has even surprised me by finding an app "simply piano" to help him learn how to play on the keyboard when I put it out one night for a morning discovery.
Strewing has been one of my top home schooling tips from another parent. Not only does this guarantee me a slower pace in the morning where they’re occupied and not needing my attention but it also improves everyone’s mood. I also come from a long line of grumpy morning people...or maybe that's just me. Planning ahead has been the key to keeping the weather in our house sunshine and rainbows.