We have a guest blogger today! Holly Bradley is a parent whose children attend Aldersgate Preschool. In her own words, Holly “swept the cobwebs off (her) journalism background and put pen to paper…er….fingers to iPad.” I’m so glad she did.
“Slow Down, Be Patient”
These are phrases commonly uttered by parents, myself included, as we watch our children moving through their little worlds. But we often don’t take our own advice.
Today, we parents rush our kids around from sports practices to clubs to appointments to play dates, trying to make sure our kids have the fullest lives possible. When sometimes, slowing down is really what they need….what we all need.
This all came into focus for me this morning as I rushed my oldest son out the door and impatiently hurried my middle son through breakfast and dressing to get him to preschool on time. All the while, my 2-year-old just went along with the fast-paced chaos…until he had enough.
We had just said our goodbyes to his brother, and already I was rushing him down the sidewalk to the car with a list of 20 things to get done while I only had one kiddo in tow rattling around in my head. That list became endangered as he planted himself on a bench in front of the school and said, “sit down wif me, Mommy.” Then he pointed out how blue the sky was and sniffed the crisp fall air and declared that he could smell French fries (from nearby Sonic or McDonald’s). “Listen Mommy, airplane.” Suddenly, my 20 “important” things didn’t seem so important.
We spent the next 15 minutes balancing along the curb in the parking lot (a great large motor activity) and picking rocks out of cracks in the sidewalk to add to our ever-growing collection. (Great fine motor exercise as his chubby fingers pushed and scraped at the sand.) What may have seemed like wasting time to me before, was a great learning opportunity in the fresh morning air. And it was probably just as or more beneficial than toddler gym time or mommy-and-me or some other activity I’ve been known to schedule so my kids are “well rounded.”
If he hadn’t stopped me, I probably would have hurried him through the lot into the car and buckled in a screaming-mad child to get home and rush around to tick “my” things off “my” list. But this morning, he figured out how to throw a wrench into my plans and SLOW me down. And I was ever so grateful after watching him just enjoy being two and discovering the world around him.
This also gave me a chance to reflect upon one of the main reasons I am so thankful that all three of my children have gone to or are currently at Aldersgate: the philosophy that play is the universal language of children drives the way the curriculum is taught. The wonderful staff all recognize that young children learn best while playing, moving and exploring the world around them — not while sitting and memorizing flashcards or writing letters repeatedly.
We won’t have this luxury every morning (I’ll be realistic.) But every once in awhile it is a good reminder to slow yourself down and let your kids be kids without structured activities and lists of things to get done. Kids need and crave down time especially at this age when play is so important.
As they get older and into elementary school, I’m finding out that downtime becomes more challenging…and the structured activities more plentiful. It is a tricky balancing act. But it is still important with older children who have less time at home to find ways to slow them down like taking the long way home or enjoying a nature walk together or just playing outside with them. It is so worth it.
I am so grateful that I have three little ones to remind me to take time to smell the roses….or in this morning’s case….the French fries.
— Holly Bradley=
Holly’s photos “are both at our neighborhood park…where we spend countless hours frog-watching.” Thank you, Holly, for such an important reminder.