An overview of the ages and stages of children, plus the need to replenish ourselves as parents.
Conference notes 2011.
Renate Long-Breipohl gave a description of a 2 1/2 year old as being ”totally sympathetic with their own deeds”.
I couldn’t help laugh a little at this. It seems my teenager is experiencing a return to toddlerhood! Now, there is an explanation I hadn’t thought of.
Renate gave a comprehensive picture of how the adult (teacher or parent) can work with a particular stage to help the child to transcend the stage successfully. These tips might also help the adult to emerge from a particular stage unscathed!
For example, when living and working alongside a toddler, we can shape and mould their ‘will’ (their desire to do something) by using the weight of our and their imagination.
“Imagination helps a child to move with the teacher.
It compels them to move their own will”
In simple terms, we must make them believe that the task is fun and talk to them in a creative way that encourages their participation.
She suggests that to do something imaginatively, we must be truly IN the task with the child. Our will to complete a task can help to ‘lift up’ their will. Also, when we ‘work’ in a task, we give them an unconscious model of how they can direct themselves. We can make a strong impact on the child just by going about our daily tasks with purpose.
From 0- 2 1/2, the most important thing for the adult to do is to self educate so ‘we have the power to deal with their powers’. We must strive to accept their wilful power as something innate and wondrous, and work with it in such a way that we still manage to stay in charge!
Renate continues that from around 2 1/2 to 3 years, the child’s DESIRE nature begins, and the wishes and wants of the child play an enormous part of the toddler’s life.
Don’t we know it?
We have to remember that desire is not negative. What it indicates is that the child’s consciousness is changing. When the child feels desire, and wants to place themselves into a task without a suggestion, this leads to ‘engagement’.
Our challenge as I see it, as teachers and parents, is to help slightly older children to have the fortitude
to activate their own will to do something at any time, even when their desire may not be there to entice them along.
This is a lifelong test of our wits. Don’t you think??
Renate suggested that our main task in raising and teaching young children is to help them to develop INTEREST in the world around them. Recalling that young children (toddlers especially) tend to focus inward, we learn that we can spark their interest by metaphorically swivelling them around to face outwards.
Interest is desire turned outwards
The task of the young child is to play, and through play, make sense of the world they live in. All children have plenty of ideas of what to do in play, but some children, especially 5 and 6 year olds lack the capacity to turn their ideas into something concrete. Play is at first an acting out of something from their memory bank of picture images they have gathered during their lifetime, brought down into movement and action. But sometimes children seem to forget what to do.
We can help in moments like this by leading children through this time with practical picture-making activity. To take them for a walk outside, pointing out objects of interest as we go along such as a new flower bud or a busy caterpillar or a fungus hiding in the crook of a tree. We can plant a new garden bed in preparation for the spring, or strive to take an active interest in others by visiting old people’s homes, or the primary school playground during lunch or to help Grandpa wash his car.
All these things, suggests Renate, help children to ‘step out of their self-centredness’.
She says that if we can grab hold of those things we know they like to do, like stirring the porridge for breakfast, or crushing up the biscuits for a cheesecake base, it can spark a flame of interest in them and give the children an opportunity to learn what truly enthuses them.
In a world where more and more children are being diagnosed or described as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) , ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or on the Autistic Spectrum, we must truly provide for and encourage interest and engagement in something tangible.
Later, in our conversation groups, we discussed the big demands that young children place upon our energy and vitality. All parents know (as do kindergarten teachers) of how exhausted one can feel at the end of a day when it seems like you haven’t really done much at all!
Replenishment of this energy source then becomes a must if we are to have the stamina to continue on with our honourable task of raising “littlies”.
The group proposed two remedies for this task.
The first (prevention) being to ensure that the things that we primarily deal with in our days are as healthy as possible.
- to take care to prepare and ingest really really good quality food;
- to ensure a balanced intake for nutrition
- to make sure each family has a support structure in place, a village of sorts, to love and care for and treasure the children too
- to limit (and possibly guard against) negative or damaging input such as gossip, useless banter or wasting time on too much television
- to strive daily to feel and note a measure of gratitude for life
The second was to take time out to rebuild and replenish our energy
- to practice sports or activities that provide nourishment, respite or rejuvenation such as yoga, tai chi, pilates, swimming or social tennis;
- to find ways to take time out- swapping childcare with another trusted mama friend or family member
- to find time to be in nature regularly- to walk on the beach or in the forest, to be near running water or visit the mountains for a dose of fresh hilltop air
How do you keep yourself ‘topped up’??
What do you do to build up your energy reserves???