This year my resolution is to slow down and incorporate a more mindful learning environment. For me it is about pausing with the children to really soak in beautiful art, music and good literature. We have done it in the past, although too sporadically for me to be happy with myself.
Art Cards. Post-Christmas is the perfect time to be on the lookout for deep discounts on beautiful art calendar. While I was searching, I came across this which is perfect for us. It has a self-containing display, with 365 beautiful art to rotate every day if we want to. I could have printed it but I knew I wasn’t going to be happy with the quality. However this art calendar is good quality printing even if the paper isn’t card stock.
I don’t plan on using it as a calendar so we can avoid rushing through it. So far, we’ve been doing it every other day — on lazy afternoons after chores are done, we snuggle up with the latest art in rotation and just enjoy it together. I’ll discuss some details, make a few inferences, ask some questions, mention what I like (or dislike) and ask him for his thoughts.
Also, I find it all messed up on occasion. This tells me that he is drawn to it and wants to look at other art that’s available.
In the bottom picture, he’s found this painting and asked me if it’s Mona Lisa. I don’t even remember properly introducing the Mona Lisa to him! He probably overheard me discussing famous art with his older brother over the holidays.
Music. I’ve set up our little boombox and a basket of music CDs borrowed from the library. We usually keep the house so silent that I’ve forgotten how wonderful it is to have nice music in the background when we are working sometimes. Z is still excited about Christmas music so he has been selecting that CD a lot. But other than that, we are now digging the Putumayo Kids CD series; they have such a lovely selection of songs from all over the world.
Good books. I’ve not been very good about reading good quality books last year, so this is a change I’m resolved to making this year. A book a day if we can manage, and hopefully quality literature. A big priority for me this year is not just reading the words aloud, but making sure that I pause to explain or ask questions (and answering them to model) about predicting events, inferring, connecting the story events with our own lives or with another book, discussing favourite and least favourite parts of the book.
Here’s a look at the overall setup. This little nook is where our Christmas tree stands during the holidays, and last year we used it to display activity trays. This year however, it’s turning out to be a very nice little “mindful learning nook”. How appropriate that Eric Carle’s slowly sloth book should be our book selection for this day that I’ve photographed the area.
The items on display are not limited to these, although these are what I had in mind to remain there for the rest of the year. I am planning to introduce nature objects, leaves, rocks, architectural miniatures … anything to provoke exploration and challenge critical thinking and questioning.
Do you have any new year’s resolutions for yourself or your children?