Sunday, 30 October 2011

Just pottering

Sometimes it's best to allow plenty of time for a toddler to simply be a toddler and potter around.  

I'm all for doing things with your toddler.  I try to have a planned activity of some sort each morning and afternoon, whether that's a going out activity - walking the dog, going to Toddlers, going swimming, grocery shopping or the library, or a staying in activity - watching some TV, baking, sticking, painting.  I also have a range of quick 5 minute things to do such as hide and seek, bubbles, nursery rhymes and stories, for those moments when you can sense that the toddler is losing it a little and needs some direction.  

But I think it's vital not to over plan, and to be flexible.  I think that it's really important to allow plenty of time for children to just be.  Not to do anything with or for them unless they specifically ask.  I know many toddlers who are ferried from organised activity to organised activity - tumble tots, baby sensory, baby signing, music classes, swimming classes and about 4 different mother and toddler groups, and the rest of the time when they are at home CBeebies is on.  I think this is great.  They are obviously learning a lot of social and other skills while out and about.  But when do they learn to use their imaginations and just play with their toys?  

I bring this up now because the other week when Little C got up from his nap he wanted to play in his bedroom and he wanted me to play too.  He was playing with his cars and I got the Megabloks out and said I was going to make a building.  After watching me for a few minutes he instructed me to build a car-park, and said that I would need to make the door big enough for his Landrover.  He then proceeded to spend the next hour driving all his cars into the car park and park them there, including little conversations about where they were going to park.  Needless to say I didn't bother about the sticking activity I had planned!  For the next few days any time that we were at home he asked to get the Megabloks and cars out, told me that I should build a car park, and then played on his own for about an hour.  Then the cars were put to one side again for a few days while he played with other things.  

This week, as Little Sis is getting more active and beginning to pull herself up on furniture, I pulled the soft stool into the middle of the sitting room so that she could use it to stand up.  It didn't take long for it to be commandeered as a car-park and for the last few days at any opportunity Little C has taken all his cars, one at a time, out of the box, and parked them in various configurations on the stool, chatting to himself all the while about where they will park.  If I had every day filled up with paid-for, time-limited activities, when would he have had the chance to play like this?

Big C got a new electronic gadget three days ago.  I looked at part of the packaging and decided it would make a good post box.  When Little C was in bed, I got out the stanley knife and made some adaptations.  I then found a couple of envelopes from the recycling box and hey presto there's a post box.  Little C has been posting letters in there, then he's been investigating it with his torch, shining the torch in to and out of the slot.  He's investigated what other items can fit through the slot (not many of his cars it seems).  And finally, today, he asked if he could draw on it.  He's decided it needs to be red, because post boxes are red.  Again, I'm not convinced that he would have had the time to learn so much all by himself if we went to more organised activities.

No comments:

Post a Comment