The secret unlocked

For years J has struggled to get up for school. I chase him around the house waking him up from unusual places multiple times in the 40 minutes allotted for getting dressed, hygiene, eating breakfast, packing his backpack, etc. For the same amount of years electronics has been forbidden before school. It was reserved for children who had a good day at school and got their homework and chores done.

Earlier this week, by some miracle,  both kids woke up before their usual time bright eyed and bushy tailed. They were both ready more than 20 minutes before we needed to leave. J was starting to show signs of slowing down. I’ve learned that if he falls back asleep at home after being ready or in the car, it is an uphill battle to keep him awake at school. So I let them each have 10 minutes of computer time while I finished getting ready. We were all happy and there was less yelling that morning.

That night before bed, J asked if he could have computer time the next morning if he got ready early. I told him yes as long as he also slept through the night and didn’t try to sneak electronics in the middle of the night (that is a whole nother battle at our house). He agreed.

This morning little j was ready almost 30 minutes early.  J was ready 10 minutes early. He gave me a little grumbling when I tried to wake him up but as soon as I mentioned computer time for kids who are ready early, he was wide awake.

I did have to add a new caveat to this though. On the way to school he started yawning and saying how tired he was. I reminded him that he was wide awake just a few minutes ago.  So computer time before school is a treat  but if he is going to fall asleep in school it will have to stop.

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His current obsession is the maps app. He is checking possible routes for a package he ordered and the shipping info says has been delayed.

Trading one obsession for another.

We all know how it goes, break one bad habit and you have to replace it with something else.  I’ve moaned and whined before about the amount of TV and movies J enjoys watching.  They keep him calm, so I don’t complain too much.  I’m just really picky about what he is allowed to watch.

For Christmas he received a Leap Frog Click Start computer.  He really has enjoyed playing this and earns about an hour of computer time either when he gets home from school or after a nap after school (IF I can get him to take one.)  the only downside to this is, we have it connected to the main TV and it is in the living-room.  So we usually let him play before any of our show are on.  J comes by his TV addiction honestly or possibly genetically.  the only difference is, we prefer NEW shows, not the same thing over and over.

Okay, so over the past year or so, we have introduced him to a few simple games on the internet.  fisherprice.com  was our first site, they start as easy as press any key and something will say peekaboo, surprise or a silly noise.  then we moved on to their alphabet games and animal sounds.  Most recently he has been playing the imaginext dinosaur puzzle.  I’m pretty proud of that one.  He does a better jigsaw with a mouse than with his hands.  Then we moved on to sesameworkshop.org  Again we started simple with Elmo’s keyboard-a-rama (press any letter or number and Elmo rewards you.)  He quickly moved up to Snuffy’s safari which takes gentle mouse manipulation.  Last night he decided to explore more of the games.  I was so proud of him as he normally sticks to the favorites.  I think he played 90% of the games on the sesame website.  the games have a nifty feature where you can click “replay” or “next game.”  He did keep going back to a couple of new favorites but also trying new and variations as well.  He did all of this with me sitting across the room from him. 

All of this is made possible by the fact that we cleared off the extra desk and set up the computer we thought was dead (so we bought a new one) and then later revived it, so now it is the kids.  I don’t feel guilty about my 2 and 4 year old having for all intents and purposes, their own laptop.  when I was a very small kid, my parents gave me computers as well.  I had a “portable” commodore.  Well it was my dad’s but I spent a lot of time on it as he used the desktop.

Okay so, one website that is ideal but we have stayed away from in the past because it was just one step above his skills and he needed a lot of parental help is nickjr.com.  especially the Go, Diego, Go! games.  Well tonight after he had spent a bit of time on sesame street (side note: your kids do not have to still be watching the show to enjoy the games, mine don’t.) he asked for nickjr.  Diego Safari rescue.  I cringed, but decided to give him a chance.  Once it loaded, if it doesn’t do it right away, go back and then click on the game again (sometimes it stalls) I sat down to help him.  Part of the game is to copy a drum sequence (like the old Simon Game).  It took a few times for me to remind him to say the pattern out loud.  Then I left the room to encourage some independence.  I kept hearing “I did it, I won!”  *Warms my heart*  Next thing I know he is touring the games section and playing all kinds of new games WITHOUT MY HELP.  I think he played a little over 2.5 hours tonight.  At least I know he was engaged for that amount of time and not zoned out on a movie.  Or worse, ignoring the movie and fighting with his brother.  When J is at the computer, Little J either “helps” over the shoulder, or just goes about his business with something else.  Little J does get computer time while J is at school, he doesn’t play for very long anyway though because he is still on the beginner, no mouse needed, games.

During the school week I limit the computer time to an hour, but on a lazy weekend when he just might be learning something, I think I’ll let it go.  Especially if it means I won’t be hearing monologues repeated from the movie du jour. Or incessant screaming and crying from the toddler/preschool wars of ’08.

Some sites we frequent, but not this weekend, so not mentioned in the blog: http://www.mostlymommies.com/games.html this is a compilation of many other games site, and even a easy peasy game for learning mouse control.  Mostly Mommies introduced us to another of our favorite games/reading site Story Place.  Each theme includes a story, game, printable, and additional reading suggestions.  Try our favorite theme Crocodiles for fun game of 5 Hungry Crocodiles.  Unfortunately the game isn’t random, but J loves it.

*This was not a paid post, just sharing some favorites with my peeps.