A couple of weeks ago, one of Mari’s posts caught my eye: she found a great list of things your children should do before starting Kindergarten. As DH was peering over my shoulder, we printed off a copy of the list and set to work seeing whether we had provided our children with productive Pre-School years*. And it turns out that in terms of experiences and achievements, our Little Misses are well-placed for when they start back in September.
1. Go to the zoo: we’ve been to Zoos in Jersey, Phoenix and Philadelphia, not to mention Wingham Wildlife Park and Christmas Tree Farm.
2. Visit a farm: see above. We spend Easter at Potash Barns, feeding lambs, collecting eggs and putting the geese away at night, too.
3. Go on a hike: We enjoyed a lovely walk (my interpretation: hike implies hard work and lots of walking, and little legs only go so far…) on Father’s Day, but also like the cliff-top walk at St-Margarets-at-Cliffe, which has fabulous views and a wonderful tea room in the old lighthouse.
4. Play with kittens or puppies: not to mention lambs, rabbits, chicks, Guinea Pigs….
5. Catch a frog: no, but we have caught a crab or three.
6. Make a gigantic mess: oh yes, they are very talented in that area.
7. Help clean up a gigantic mess: still needs some work.
8. Master the monkey-bars: we have a set in our garden. They are very high up. It’s not happening.
9. Swing high up into the sky all by themselves: ditto swings.
10. Try ice-skating: when we did a House-Swap in Brussels at New Year, the Girls had a chance to try ice-skating and sledging.
11. Go sledding: ahem, sledging. Yes, last time it snowed in Bromley, DH ‘worked from home’ so that we could take our Little Misses out on the slopes. It was a really wonderful day, and I used the photo on a recent product review.
12. Make a snow-man: did this on the same day, although LBG has had snowman-building fun in the past with Uncle Neal.
13. Blow bubbles: I have to hide the bubble mix sometimes, to give it a chance to recover.
14. Plant seeds and watch them grow: we grew some things last year, and this year, as part of the Tots 100 Home Club Challenge, are working on a bigger project.
15. Have a pillow fight: there’s enough fighting in this house, without encouraging more. But there are plenty of cushions and pillows, and they do get used for bashing each other around. It frequently ends in tears.
16. Jump on a big bed: not to mention small beds, sofas, trampolines…..It seems to be a key factor in determining a good night’s sleep: bounce on the bed.
17. Jump on a trampoline or in a bounce house: see above.
18. Hang out in a tent: we recently went camping in our splendid tent, but we also have indoor pop-up tents, houses, cardboard houses and, failing all of the above, fort-building skills that were recently honed in the Children’s Museum of Phoenix where there is a whole room dedicated to such practices!
19. Spend days at the beach: we probably spend three out of every four weekends at The Beach House.
20. Build sandcastles: Little Misses are practiced at sand-building in any weather, whether sand castles, sand ice-creams, sand cakes….
21. Go fishing: with the help of friends, The Girls caught around 40 crabs in Cromer last Easter.
22. Go out on a boat: we took the Dolly Steamboat around Canyon Lake on our recent trip to Phoenix.
23. Play with blocks and puzzles: There is a lot of time at The Beach House- which has no TV reception- for playing with puzzles and games. Melissa and Doug puzzles are my favourite for young children, but you cannot beat Orchard Toys for the best puzzles.
24. Read the classic picture books. They read. A lot. Classic an dmodern.
25. Read a classic chapter book: audio-books get a lot of air-time in the car. We favour Milly-Molly-Mandy and My Naughty Little Sister currently but the BFG is popular too.
26. Check out library books with their own library card: they both have Kipper Library Cards and have been to the Library, but we have so many books at home that there isn’t much need to borrow others. So we don’t go terribly often.
27. Get a passport: they have both had passports since birth. Just in case we needed to leave the country in a hurry (kidding, by the way.)
28. Carve a pumpkin: every October Half-Term in time for our Pumpkin Party.
29. Hold a newborn baby (to see how much they’ve grown): they recently fought over holding Baby Izzy, which caused consternation with her actual big sister, who couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.
30. Love a special doll or stuffed animal: everything is loved, and all toys get a chance to be the favoured one. At least this is as far as DH and I can tell: who knows how the mind of a two-year-old works?
31. Bake cookies and cakes: we even bake when on holiday.
32. Help plan their own birthday party: LBG has the invite list sorted for her 5th birthday, a mere nine months away. She currently wants a cooking party and everyone will wear princess dresses.
33. Go to the circus. Nope.
34. Go to a museum on a quiet weekday: it’s the only time to visit some museums. Schools go back today in Phoenix so I anticipate getting some quiet museum action in before we return to the UK.
35. Play hide-and-seek: this is a regular game, and has been known to include me, Daddy and Granny M.
36. Play a board game: see 23. Orchard Toys rock.
37. Do nothing whatsoever all day: impossible, surely. Unless you mean an unplanned day: it used to be that Friday mornings were for relaxing and watching TV in your pjs after a busy week, but that will all change when school starts in September. LBG is getting quite good at chilling in front of the TV: she really enjoyed the plane journey to the US because she was sitting apart from Dimples and didn’t get disturbed.
38. Try a sport: since being in Arizona, with 24 hour access to our very own pool, The Girls have both been asking for swimming lessons….
39. Watch a sporting event: we watched a lot of the Olympics, and we did get to see the Torch pass through Bromley.
40. Learn to swim: see 38.
41. Be tickled in hysterics: we are all a little too ticklish, even DH.
42. Paint and draw as much as desired: check.
43. Have the use of scissors and glue: that too.
44. Display artworks and other creations around the house: again, yes. Did I mention that I am getting a craft room when The Build is done? It’s so that DH can shut the door on all the paint, glitter, scissors, glue, crafting and artwork….
45. Learn to use a camera (and keep an album of the results!) : when Ariel very kindly sent me a celebration pack. It contained a disposable camera, which LBG has been making use of on our trip, although she has taken a few shots with my camera. We look forward to getting the photos back when we get the camera developed on our return.
46. Play with clay: playdough gets a lot of playtime, both in Bromley and at the Beach House. We have also used air-drying clay for projects, and LBG and I had a blast making glittery Salt-dough Diwas last year.
47. Pick flowers: DH recently taught my Girls to make daisy chains!
48. Climb a tree. Nope.
49. Gaze at the moon and stars: this is much easier in winter, when night falls ahead of bedtime. But we’ve done plenty of star-gazing on our Arizona road-trip: you get a great view of the night sky from Sedona!
50. Toast marshmallows: LBG didn’t like these when I first made them with her. But when we went camping we made banana boats and that was very well received.
51. Learn to eat an ice-cream cone: yes- simply bite off the bottom then start licking the top. Surely everyone knows this??
52. Watch a sunset: from one of the restaurants in Sedona whilst we ate delicious food.
53. Learn to write their own names: LBG has it nailed, but Dimples is getting there.
54. Learn their addresses and telephone numbers: LBG knows her address, but is learning the phone number. Dimples will now it by the time she gets to Reception.
55. Learn their parents’ full names: they know our first names. And they both know their full names. Which is impressive because they both have two middle names.
56. Set the table: they put the things on the table, and LBG distributes things, but not consistently in the right place.
57. Clear the table: yes. *punches air with fist* I am not a bad mother!!
58. Help wash the dishes: or, as we call it, load the dishwasher.
59. Learn to say their pleases and thank yous and excuse mes: but of course. I am delighted to say that these were some of their first words.
60. Watch fireworks: every 5th November, we watch the Broadstairs fireworks from the comfort of the conservatory in Prezzo. The Girls don’t like the noise. They take after the Wonder Hound.
61. Go to the ballet or theater or a puppet show: yes. We recently saw The Tiger Who Came To Tea at the Bromley Churchill Theatre, and LBG and I saw Elmer last year too.
62. Put on a ballet or play or puppet show at home: ‘shows’ are the new big thing in our house.
63. Face paint: they have had their faces painted at various events and farms.
64. Dress up in costumes at will: well, d’uh!
65. Learn rhymes and poems and songs by heart: LBG is very good at picking up tunes and lyrics. She can sing along to the entire Glee catalogue of songs. Dimples is a shoo-in for the Nativity this year as she has been work perfect at Away in a Manger since LBG started singing it last November.
66. Have a dance party: oh, we dance. We dance in the car, the supermarket, the Doctor’s surgery, the pool. We need no excuse to dance. We also encourage Grannies, Dads and batchelor Uncles to join in as much as possible, and with no regard to their low tolerance of public humiliation.
67. Enjoy friends at preschool and at the park: I cannot imagine a day without friends.
68. Invite friends over to play: see above
69. Get to know grandparents: Granny M they see every week, because she lives in nearby Croydon. Granny and Babar they talk with on Skyoe weekly and see regularly. I should make more of an effort with Granddad.
70. Play with cousins: it’s been easier since one branch of the family moved back to the UK from Sydney to Sussex. The other set are in Princeton, USA, which makes playdates a little tricky.
71. Become attached to a wonderful preschool teacher and/or babysitter: LBG is very excited to reclaim one of her Kindergarten teachers in September (Mrs Clarke moved up to Reception half-way through the last school year.) We recently said goodbye to Dimples’ special teachers when she left nursery. I cried.
72. Learn the name of our
president Prime Minister. No, but they can recognise a member of the Royal Family at 100 paces. That Hello! subscription is clearly paying off.
73. Know the name of their town,
state county and country: LBG does. Dimples knows we live in Bromley.
74. Be familiar with a map of the world: we have one on the wall in the Breakfast Room. But we also have family overseas and that helps massively in terms of desire to learn about The World.
75. Listen to music from many different ages and genres: the Glee soundtrack covers that, to a degree. In Arizona we’ve become Country Afficionados.
76. Hear and learn words from a different language: thanks to The Au Pair, LBG can count to ten in French and sing a variety of songs (though only to her teddies…apparently I don’t understand French)
77. Learn the difference between trash and recycling: check. Most of the time.
78. Grow their own vegetables: see 14.
79. Learn to ride a bike (or try!): not yet, although they are very good at using scooters. Bikes are on the C-list.
80. Take a road trip: hello? We are, like, totally on one now?!
81. Draw a self-portrait: she will draw a portrait of anything that will stand still long enough.
82. Slurp alphabet soup: does not compute. Must be an American thing.
83. Learn to twirl spaghetti on a fork: check.
84. Pick apples: we have apple trees in the garden though they are too young. We have picked cherries, and anything grown in our garden.
85. Star in a home movie: mais, naturellement. See? I do understand French.
86. Learn a magic trick: I shall add this to the Must Do List.
87. Try different hair-dos: oh yes, we love playing hairdressers……*sighs* I need to fid a new
victim Au Pair.
88. Practice writing letters: letters as in the alphabet? Just look in any room in the house and you will find dozens of pieces of papers with random letters written across it. It’s LBG’s second favourite activity after bossing me around.
89. Practice counting to 100: will have to check how far she can count….
90. Make up stories: in LBG’s case, rather than the conventional imaginary friend, she has an entire imaginary branch of the family. She talks about them with such love that we actually have to tell people about the non-existence of family members who live in a windmill in Africa. In Dimples’ case, making up stories is all about apportioning blame: “I didn’t do it, it was LBG/Nugget/anyone-but-me’.
91. Send a letter: we do postcards. Lots of postcards.
92. Receive a letter: see above. Although LBG did receive a very nice letter from @TescoUK apologising for making her cry.
93. Ride on a merry-go-round: but of course. Going round and round is something children love doing. It just makes me feel queasy.
94. Give away toys and books to less fortunate children: Again: Must Do List. Shoe box thing at Christmas me thinks.
95. Learn the value of coins and bills: work in progress.
96. Keep a piggy bank: putting coins in the piggy bank has been one of my childrens’ favourite activities since they were small. They have spent countless hours taking coins out an putting them in. I credit their great fine motor skills with this activity alone
97. Try a musical instrument: oh, how I love a recorder...
98. Have a heartfelt wish granted: my girls are more lucky than they will ever know.
99. Have a heartfelt wish denied: I get the sense in this, but as their mother, I never actually want to have them broken-hearted or deprived.
100. Receive a million (make that a billion) heartfelt kisses and hugs from their parents. Yes. YES!!!
* I would like to point out that were are not *ahem* overly competitive parents, nor am I trying to compete with Mari’s gorgeous girls. Have you seen them? They are even cuter in real life, trust me!