Over the past few weeks Zachary and I have been going to Toddler Time at the local library. They do stories and songs. It's fun and Zachary is fascinated by the other kids. Toddlers are active little people so you never know what will happen, but lately it has felt more chaotic than usual. I have been doing some observing to try and figure out why this is. Most parents sit with their children on the floor and participate with them in the songs and stories. There are some parents who sit back and watch their child as they roam around the room. I think that is fine. But what happens when a child stands in front of the teacher and grabs at her things when she is trying to lead the lesson? What would you do? My initial instinct would be to gently pick up my child, take him back to our area on the carpet and encourage him to watch and listen to what the teacher is doing. Lately, I have been observing more parents letting their children roam without direction, even if they are up front getting into things. This is where the chaos seems to build. More kids gather around the teacher and it becomes difficult for the lesson to continue. Those of us who are sitting, trying to listen and participate are left watching the struggle. I admit it, I became frustrated and finally picked up Zachary and left.
The other day we went to another Toddler Time at a different library. It was mostly music. The teacher told the adults to let their children do whatever they wanted as long as they were safe. If that meant running around the room, that was fine. She asked that we stay with her and continue doing the activities so our children will see us as we model for them. Now don't get me wrong, I am all about letting kids explore and learn at their own pace, but shouldn't we as parents help guide our children in that learning? As I watched some children run around the room it didn't seem to me that they cared at all about what mom, dad or grandma was doing. They were wild and free while other children were trying to sing along over the chaos. Sometimes I wonder if we are so afraid to "squelch" our child's individuality that we let go of structure and the opportunity to teach them skills they will need for their future.
There are definitely times and places to allow our kids to run, shout and be plain silly, but then there are times to help our children learn to be still, participate and listen. After all, they have never been in this world before. They look to us to be their primary guide and teacher. I do know that when they go off to preschool or Kindergarten there will be quiet times and story times where they won't be allowed to run around and do what they want. Wouldn't it be helpful for us to begin building that structure into their lives at an early age? I think so.
Thanks for reading as I process "out loud". I welcome your thoughts too! Blessings to you and your little one(s)!