Wildly Independent Children 2.0

Welcome back! I took a break- longer than expected- but I needed a few weeks to get some thoughts in order, stoke a few irons in the fire, and zone out on a few seasons of How I Met Your Mother…but more on all that later.

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” -Maria Montessori

A few months ago, I wrote about fostering your child’s independence, and as I continue to grow and learn with my children, I have thought about my role in doing so because as some forms of teaching my children come naturally, I have had to learn through experiences what the early childhood experience looks like in our home with my two children.

A few evenings ago, we were finishing up dinner. And by we, I mean me and the girls. Our work/ministry/family life lends time favored toward family breakfasts together and then busy afternoons and evenings, so typically, I am on dinner duty solo.  My 2-year-old wanted to help me with the dishes.  I asked her to go into the living room and play while I put a few things away, then we were headed upstairs for bath and bed. My patience was thin…I was ready for bedtime. But like a roadrunner, she already had her play table chair dragging behind her, headed toward the sink. I had just enough patience to count to some number greater than 4…..and less than 25…..and slightly change course so we could wash the dishes together.

Reflecting on this extra 20 minutes together enlightened me not only of my child’s development, but of myself and my role in her learning. Since having children, I’ve had to re-learn what learning activities looks like. Our time is not always spent in hours of uninterrupted play/work like I was used to experiencing in a quality early childhood classroom. I quickly learned that staying home during this time of my children’s lives also meant I needed to keep up with other things that weren’t necessarily “child’s work”, but there are magnificent opportunities for my children to learn and become extremely independent, while balancing a healthy amount of free-play into most days.  But let’s face it, somedays it’s really challenging just to get 5 minutes a day of focused play with each of my girls.

I have always been intrigued by Maria Montessori’s approach to learning. “Little children, from the moment they are weaned, are making their way toward independence.” (Maria Montessori) Her philisophical triad: children – environment – teacher/parent, approach places equal value on all three to foster independence by exploring and learning in an enriching environment where the teacher provides opportunities for advancement based on a child’s “sensitive period” (or window of opportunity) and guides, rather than instructs.

Here’s how I’ve transferred this into parenting my children:

  •  My home is a rich part of my children’s learning. Some activities include building blocks and painting, but also a lot of laundry, cooking and cleaning.
  • Within every activity there is a learning opportunity for my children. We have rich language development in cooking, dishes, etc.; increased early math awareness in cooking, laundry, building blocks and organizing; healthy social-emotional development during play, bath, dinner (both girls sharing time and space) as well as when we are grocery shopping or interacting with others in the community.
  • Including my children in home activities takes a lot of time and patience. Allowing my 2-year-old to find her own shoes (that match), put them on her feet and grab her water bottle before leaving the house takes at least 20 more minutes than if I were to direct all of those activities. I’ve learned to plan for that time (most of the time….).
  • The pressure to be down on my children’s level, playing with them during “play time” has somewhat lifted because they are receiving guidance from me weaved throughout the day, so their ability to play independently for longer periods of time has significantly increased.
  • I need to be aware of our home environment, but most importantly what each of my children are attempting to do next…so I can provide the materials, guidance and encouragement to increase their levels of development and independence!

Since learning some of these truths for myself, I’ve enjoyed the time at home with my girls more. I’m intrigued to know how your days are structured, especially if you have older children home from school for the summer. Do you take a more relaxed approach to the day, are you and your children’s calendar and schedules mapped out through August, and what learning activities/lessons do you prepare and teach, if any? I believe in the fluidity of parenting and teaching, there is no right way, there is always change, and what works for one does not always work for another!

Comment below about your summer activities. Follow Chucks & Pigtails on Instagram or on Twitter. Stay connected by subscribing to my posts.








30 Day Husband Challenge: Day 30

He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22 NKJV)

The relationship clichés, we’re soulmates and we were destined to be together never sat right with me because: a) I don’t believe there is only one person whom you can make it work with to have a lifelong relationship, b) there’s a lot more work that goes into making a relationship life-lasting than leaning on one of those beliefs, and c) for someone who married quite a bit “later” than the typical woman, those statements bring a lot of pressure, doubt and wonder of, did I miss my person? My father-in-law told us just a few days before our wedding, God didn’t say choose the wife, He said choose a wife, and then He will bless it. Plan for the marriage not the wedding?!

Do you know what the #1 most frequent answer men cited about when they knew a woman had future-wife potential (according to eharmony)? Beauty? Successful career? Potential to be a great mother? Not even close…..the answer: she is a really nice person. 

After 30 days challenging each other to pray for and focus on our marriages, I think we can all agree that there are many elements that are significant in creating a successful, loving marriage, but being nice is a priority. Men take notice of women who display kindness before any other trait. 

We all know the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would like done unto you, or the saying, you attract bees with honey. The Bible also addresses our demeanor:

Better to dwell in the wilderness, Than with a contentious and angry woman. (Proverbs 21:19 NKJV)

She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness. (Proverbs 31:26 NKJV) 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (John 13:34 NKJV).

Being nice and kind isn’t boring and old fashioned. It’s valuable and honorable to those we love the most. One man gave an anecdotal of a woman’s kindness that caught his attention, I had mentioned my favorite dessert was from a bakery with the best chocolate walnut brownie. The next night she dropped off that brownie with my doorman, but the point was that she did a ‘drive-by.’ Most girls would have used it as an excuse to hang-out, or worse, to check up on me. I liked her gesture because it was actually focused on doing something nice just for me.

Day 30 Challenge:
1. Be nice. Say kind things. Do thoughtful gestures. Being nice isn’t the only thing that will keep the love alive, but out of the condition of the heart, the tongue speaks. When your heart is soft, open to love, filled with joy, so your words and actions to those around you will be kind, loving and joyful.

THANK YOU for taking on this 30 day challenge with me. Prayerfully, God’s Word has penetrated into areas of your relationship as a seed or a sword. This challenge will live on the blog for a long time- so please pass it on to friends or come back and take it again! The Word is living, so the scriptures and prayers you prayed this month may have significantly new meaning and life again in a different season of your relationship!

Here are a few things you can look forward to in the next couple months at Chucks & Pigtails:
*Mother’s Day (throughout the month of May)
*Women in Leadership panel (Q&A) with some amazing women leaders and lead pastors
*Positive Parenting Strategies

Stay connected via social media: Twitter (@chucks_pigtails) and Instagram (@chucks_pigtails)

I would LOVE to hear your feedback from your 30 Day Husband Challenge! Email me your stories, thoughts and anything you’d like to share about how God worked in your relationship, to chucksandpigtails@gmail.com

30 Day Husband Challenge: Day 26

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” (Revelation 21:5 NKJV)

My husband jokes all the time that I tricked him when we were dating. I used to “love” going to movies with him and we would see several a month. I can count on one hand since we said our wedding vows how many movies we’ve seen together. I really do like seeing a good movie, but since our lives have changed, our quality time has changed- and that’s ok!

We’re going to continue to grow as individuals- just look back at your wedding day hair-do. Unless you were married in the last 3 years, chances are you’ve updated your hair and style. Your tastes and interests have changed. The same is true for your husband and for your relationship! What you enjoyed about each other and to do together has changed- and will continue to change!

Now, I know that I need to compromise once in awhile and go to the movies with my husband- it really is his love language. But, we also understand that with the limited time we have alone, that a night out to dinner so we can catch up and talk is much more beneficial at this stage in our relationship. 

The reality of this 30 Day Husband Challenge has taught me 2 things: 1) Communication is key. We need to talk, talk, and talk some more and then probably circle back and talk again! Fleshing out our thoughts, feelings and issues happens through communication. 2) Seasons come and seasons go- and every new season brings about new negotiables. I’ve always loved starting a new school year- so as an adult I love fall time. To me, it represents starting fresh, or starting new. New seasons are simliar in relationships. Through Jesus, who paid for all our shortcomings, all things can be made new!

Day 26 Challenge:
1. Find something new to do together! It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or time consuming, but find a new TV series, find a book to read together, find a new game to play, or find a new place to go and spend time together. 

2. Ask more questions! Discover what new things your husband likes, and share the new things you like. Here are just a few questions to ask to get you started:
•What was one of the best days you ever had?
•Ideally, how would you like to spend the hours after work each day?
•What are your favorite movies?
•If you could have one super-power that would make your relationship better, what would you choose and why?
•What do you think is romantic?

“Marriage: If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.”
– F. Burton Howard