Rabbit Therapy

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We’ve recently bought Eldest a rabbit. He’s a Mini Rex and he’s been named Blizzard (the rabbit, not Eldest).
It’s the first pet that has belonged to Eldest. Before Blizzard all our pets have been family pets. So this is a big step of responsibility for Eldest. We’re very much hoping that he will rise to the challenge.
The Mini Rex has an extremely soft coat. This is a wonderful thing for Eldest who spends a lot of time seeking soft things to stroke.
Caring for Blizzard has already started a lot of interesting discussions. When we brought the rabbit home, away from everything he knew and into a world full of different sounds, sights and smells, the boys noted how similar it was to when they came home. Eldest asked me how I had taught him not to be scared of me so that he could try the same trick with the rabbit. Watching as the rabbit gradually grew in confidence and came to trust Eldest and even to snuggle up to him, was a bit like watching the boys learn to trust us as parents. Thankfully, Blizzard settled in a lot faster!
Talking about the right food to feed Blizzard and the importance of limiting treats has been interesting. I think it’s strange for Eldest to see this from the other side, as it were. Maybe it will help him to understand why treat foods have to be limited for humans too.
I had heard that pets could help children develop emotional literacy. But it was still a lovely surprise to hear Eldest describing how Blizzard kicking up his back feet can be a sign that he’s excited. Eldest really wants to know how his rabbit is feeling, and is making an effort to understand his rabbit’s world view.
Of course, pet ownership is never without its challenges. Eldest has found cleaning out his rabbit’s hutch quite a challenge. Eldest intensely dislikes getting dirty. But, he knew that cleaning out the hutch was part of the deal. And, to his great credit, he has joined in with the unglamorous task and pushed past his distaste for Blizzard’s sake.
I am so pleased that we got Blizzard and very proud of how well Eldest is taking care of him. Long may it continue!

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Great Lesson Five – the story of Writing.

One of the things that makes humans special is our ability to use words to talk to each other and share our ideas.
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Being able to record our words enables us to share ideas over great distances and long periods of time. Before words, early man drew pictures to remind themselves and others of stories. At first, writing was used for records.
About 3300-3100BC, Ancient Egyptians had a written language called hieroglyphics, which looks like pictures.
About 1500BC, there was a prototype alphabet in Phoniciea with 24 letters. How many letters does our alphabet have?
Ancient Greeks probably invented the wax tablet about 800BC.
About 150BC in Greece, people began making parchment from animal skins, this lasted better than papyrus.
The Greeks wrote mathematics and plays. The Romans wrote laws and stories, letters and shopping lists, many Roman people could read and write. Roman children learnt to write using wax tablets and bone styluses, which made it easy to rub out mistakes.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were written about 100BC.
Paper was made in China as early as 105AD, but it was a long time before paper was made anywhere else, it didn’t really take off in the Western world until the early 15th Century.
In 868AD, people in China were using woodblocks to print books. Chinese scientist Bi Sheng invented movable type in 1045AD, but he used porcelain, which broke easily. Wang Zhen improved on this with wooden movable type in 1313. Chinese uses a very different alphabet with over 50,000 characters.
The rest of the world was still reproducing books by hand, using quill pens, like this one.

But many people couldn’t read at all and all the books belonged to rich people or the church.
Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1450, he invented movable type as well, possibly independently of Big Sheng and Wang Zehn’s work.
The printing press allowed people to print pamphlets cheaply. Hundreds were made and, as there was more to read, more and more people learnt to read.
Early best sellers included The Bible and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.
Samuel Pepys refers to a pen with a metal nib in his 1663 diary, though they weren’t mass produced until John Mitchell did so in Birmingham in 1822.
In the 19th Century, then Industrial Revolution brought books within the reach of most people. The Public Library Act of 1850 led to the establishment of public libraries all over the country, allowing people to read books without having to buy them, opening up the world of learning to everyone.
The 19th Century also brought free, compulsory education, similarly to those Roman pupils hundreds of years before them, young children wrote with chalk on slates so they could easily rub out and start again.
These days 90% of people in the UK can read. We have many methods of printing cheaply, so we find ourselves surrounded by words all the time!

This is the last of the official Montessori Great Lessons, and the boys are working on their projects. Eldest is investigating the printing press and Middly is looking at quill pens.
We’ve really enjoyed this style of learning, and I’m planning on carrying on with some new topics of my own.

Refilling your bucket.

So, what do West Wing repeats, chocolate and very hot baths have in common?
They are some of my most important parenting tools.
They’re not actually given directly to the boys (well, chocolate is sometimes), these are some of the things that I use to keep myself as happy as I can.
Happy parents are better parents.
When you’re living with trauma, it can be tricky to be cheerful. But, so far, it seems to be one of the most important pieces of the parenting jigsaw.
I’m always looking for new ways to de-stress myself. So, I thought I would make a list here, in case it offers anybody any handy ideas. And perhaps people can offer a few new ones for me to try!
To make me feel better, I like to:
1) Have a hot bath
2) Eat chocolate
3) Read, I particularly enjoy funny books (like Tom Holt and Jasper Fforde)
3) Watch TV (we’ve covered the West Wing, but I also rather like Come Dine with Me, and that is always on!)
4) Make tea, coffee or hot chocolate
5) Sing (handle this one with care, the boys consider music to be a kind of aggression)
6) Meditate
7) Puzzles – I enjoy solving a simple puzzle, it soothes me when I can’t seem to solve the trickier parts of life!
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8) Driving – getting behind the wheel is very soothing, it makes me feel like there are some things I can control.