Tag Archives: toddlers

Pushing My Buttons

Please note: I was conflicted as to whether or not to post the following. I want to be clear that I do not represent RIE™ as an organization. I have nothing but admiration for their work and do not want to misrepresent their message or philosophy. Like so many, I have found RIE™ Principles enlightening and helpful in building authentic relationships with the children in my care. RIE™ influences my practices. What I write about here are my experiences, my understandings, and my interpretations. I enjoy sharing my experiences with others because I think everyone — parent, caregiver, and human being — can benefit from Magda Gerber’s teachings. I am sharing my personal passion, I am not an expert. To better understand RIE™, please visit their web site or attend a training! You will find more resources at the bottom of this post.

“Having respect for the world is when you allow people to be what they are.” – Magda Gerber

Two of the words that are commonly used to describe RIE-influenced interactions with children are calm and peaceful. It has been my experience that the perception of what these words mean in relation to everyday experiences and interactions with infants and young children can cause some people to feel alienated from the true heart of Magda Gerber‘s philosophy. These words, in fact, can cause some people to think that RIE™ is something that they can’t “do” because what it sounds like to them is that they would need to become an entirely different kind of person. (In fact, my experience has been that incorporating just a few pieces of Magda’s advice will make you feel like a slightly different kind of person! And you will want to know and do more.) They feel intimidated by the idea that they don’t know the “right” words or actions. They may have come across some misinformation about what RIE™ is or what it looks like and they feel it’s not a match for their style. Because sometimes when you’re living and working with young children and their strong emotions, the very last thing you can imagine feeling, moment to moment, is calm and/or peaceful.

As the leader of an infant/toddler program and primary caregiver to three to four infants and young toddlers in an environment that is home throughout the day to at least eight small people and three adult people, I have days when I leave work on my lunch break and sit silently in my car, breathing in and out, consuming the silence like soul sustenance. There are days when I feel that, rather than anything resembling calm or peaceful, I have been marinating in an environment of disorder, borderline chaos, and noise pollution. There are days when I feel like I am failing.

The reality is that being with children in a way that is authentic, nurturing, and supportive is frequently quite exhausting and intensive. It’s work, this work that we do. It’s often loud and messy and seemingly chaotic. There are times when someone will open the door to my classroom and glance at the toys strewn across the floor, raise their eyebrows at the sound of a baby (or two, or three, or more) crying, and they will make a comment about it being loud, messy, and seemingly chaotic. “Yes,” we say, “we have a lot going on. Yes, we are busy being with our babies.” Sometimes the toys are all on the floor from 8:00 in the morning until after 6:00 in the evening (and sometimes when I’m walking out the door, I just don’t have the strength to put that last item on the shelf). Sometimes it seems that one baby or another has been crying nearly all day. Most of the time, I come home with stains on my clothing of dubious origin.

My understanding of RIE™ Principles makes the work that I do easier not because it is always calm or peaceful and not because I myself am always truly calm and peaceful, but because it gives me the tools to get through those times that feel chaotic and overwhelming. In the group caregiving setting that I work in, my understanding of RIE™ gives me the peace of mind that the caring is the curriculum. It gives me the confidence to consciously slow down in my responses during moments that can seem like little emergencies. My goal isn’t to quiet babies or to rush to meet their perceived needs, but instead to be with them and understand them on a deeper level. It’s an understanding that this moment, while fleeting, is built on in the next and the next and the next after that. Moments stacked together like blocks, building a long, meaningful relationship. I’m reminded that it’s a practice, not a perfect system to somehow flawlessly implement. Treating the children in my care with respect, treating their families with respect, and treating my co-workers with respect makes it possible to see myself with respect — with forgiveness and understanding for myself as a perfectly imperfect human being and caregiver. It allows me to really know the children and for them to know me as well. They know what to expect from me and from our days together.

Interactions, even respectful interactions, with young children are not always either peaceful or calm. They’re not always easy. Something that I frequently see mentioned about RIE™, in outside reviews and commentary, is that it advocates treating children “as adults”. My understanding is that this is an inherently flawed interpretation. Instead, what I understand of RIE™ is that children are recognized for being exactly what they are: children. They’re not condescended to or judged for being somehow less-than or incompetent. They are simply met respectfully where they are. There is not an expectation that they be anything other than human children.

One of the young toddlers that I am currently working with is going through a period of pushing and shoving that is common in children of that age. It is not uncommon for the adults in our classroom to have to stop this behavior and remind the child a dozen times a day that we will not allow her to push and shove. Recently, I was changing the diaper of another child when the child who has been pushing came to stand beside me, whining to be picked up. The child on the diaper table turned to look, hearing the whine, and I said, “Did you hear M? She is asking to be picked up.” I then turned to the child who was whining and said, “M, I am with S right now. When I’m done helping S, I will be able to help you.” Predictably, in her agitated state, this did little to help M. She did pause momentarily in her whining, putting her hand against my leg, but then a third child came over to see what was happening. Seeing the other child approaching while she was trying to get my attention proved too much for M and she yelled in frustration before shoving the other child away from me, hard. The child who had been shoved began to cry loudly, as did M. It wasn’t long before the child on the diapering table began to wail as well. (“What’s happening?! Is this an emergency?”)

I think we can all agree that a moment like this can feel like chaos. I’m pretty sure I started sweating a little bit. The little voice in the back of my head began to question all of my choices.

So what happened next in this instance? Well, first I completed the diaper change, calming S through the familiar routine and then putting her down. I then got down on the floor beside the child who had been shoved and said, “You’re so upset that you got shoved! That looked like it hurt you and scared you. Do you want a hug?” She rushed into my arms and patted my back while I patted hers, her crying slowing to sniffles. And M? She stood close by, alternately crying and screaming. I turned to her, to include her, “M, I hear you. You wanted me to pick you up. O was scared when you shoved her and she needed help. It sounds like you’re feeling very upset too.” M cried, “Up! Uppie!” When another child peered around the corner at her, she put her hand towards them as if to push them away. “M!” I called sharply, “Stop! I won’t let you push.” She turned to look at me and I looked back steadily. The child in my arms had calmed and appeared ready to walk away. I whispered to her, “Can you go see P? She is sitting in the red chair with some books.” O walked away to where another caregiver sat with two younger babies. “I have free arms for you, M,” I said, “Can I help you?” She rushed at me with the full force of her powerful toddler body. She clung to me for a long time… and it was peaceful.

Inside, I was already replaying this scene in my mind, thinking about what I could have done differently to meet the needs of each child in my care.

That was not an isolated incident that day. I stopped M from pushing many more times and she succeeded in pushing several more. Each time, there were instances where neither one of us felt particularly calm or peaceful. At one point, we were face-to-face. She was tear-stained and red-cheeked and angry that I was (exhausted and frustrated) again stopping the behavior. “I won’t let you hurt other people,” I told her. She lunged towards me, as if to shove me, and I held up one hand, “Stop, M. I won’t let you.” She screamed (you may be able to imagine the sound if you have a toddler in your life). “What can we do, M? Do you want to go push the scooter or do you want me to hold you for a minute?” Her body slumped and she again asked, “Uppie?” I picked her up and held her until she had another idea of what she wanted to do.

Ultimately, M felt my calm resolve to help keep her from pushing other people. I wasn’t calm, through and through. I was concerned that someone would be hurt. I was concerned that M be able to express herself and communicate what was inside of her. I wanted to understand and meet her needs. But in my resolve, in what I wanted for M and the classroom at large, I was calm and peaceful.

“You have to do what you believe in.” – Megda Gerber

We do our best, my co-workers and I, to shine a light on the RIE™ Principles for our co-workers and families because these principles resonate with what we believe to be best for children and families. These things that I have described are all things that happen in families and with young children: sometimes there is pushing and shoving (sometimes physical, sometimes emotional), screaming, crying, falling down, helping up, and hugging. There are moments that are beautifully calm and peaceful, through and through. And there are moments that are … not. But they’re all real. Messy, maybe borderline chaotic, probably loud, and totally authentic. My understanding of Magda Gerber’s teachings is just like this: It’s respecting children enough to talk them through times that are difficult and uncomfortable and maybe loud and messy, without shaming and blaming and judging and labeling them. It’s being okay with them not being “okay”. It’s trying again tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that (when M will finally internalize the limit that has been set regarding pushing and shoving).

I’m far removed from being an expert on RIE™. It’s just part of my journey and I appreciate all that it has taught me. I read, I listen, I reflect. I take those pieces that resonate most with me (for example, that little piece about telling M that I was with S, engaged in her diapering routine, and I would move on from that routine when it was concluded, trusting that M could wait and that S benefits from and deserves my attention and respect during such an intimate routine) and I put them together with the other pieces I have come across over the years from other sources.

Resources:
About RIE™
What is RIE™?
Dear Parent: Caring for Infants With Respect (2nd Edition) by Magda Gerber.
Baby Knows Best: Raising a Confident and Resourceful Child, the RIE™ Way by Deborah Carlisle Solomon, RIE Executive Director.
Janet Lansbury’s Elevating Childcare blog.
Regarding Baby, Lisa Sunbury’s blog.

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Favorite Toddler Books

When toddlers come to love a book, they LOVE IT with the kind of love that only toddlers are capable of, from the top of their heads to the tips of their toes. It’s impossible to read the book too often because until they tire of it, their love for it is tireless. They may like and enjoy other books along the way, but there can be no substitutions for their true love. You’ll have it memorized within days and you may find yourself quietly reciting it at odd times (I myself carry a small toddler library in my mind). You’ll stealthily slip it from their grasp when they’ve fallen asleep with it clutched in their arms. You’ll make sure that you pack it each time you leave the house. In later months and years, you may go decades without picking up the book again, but then one day you’ll come across it and it will be, as they say, just like riding a bike — the words and pictures be as familiar to you as if you’d last seen them five minutes ago. Aren’t books wonderful?

Below you’ll find a sampling of the kind of books I have seen toddlers fall hard for. Please share your own favorites in the comments! And remember this advice from author Mem Fox, “Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read. Or the same story a thousand times!“.

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw. This is such a fun book to read aloud. Toddlers love the rhyming language, the hilarious flow of the story, and the combination of familiar words with more sophisticated language. I worked with one seventeen-month-old who fell head over heels for this book and, after hundreds of readings, acted out pieces of the story with farm animal toys! This one will always be high on my favorites list.

Skippyjon Jones: Up & Down by Judy Schachner. I had never heard of Skippyjon Jones until someone donated this board book to my program a couple of years ago. The book was immediately claimed by one toddler, who memorized the entire sequence of events in words and signs. His love for this book prompted me to order another Skippyjon Jones book (the delightful Skippyjon Jones Shapes Up), only to have him react with anger as it seemed to him like trickery to present a book so similar to his favorite that featured altogether different events. What he loved best of all, you see, was the predictability of the book. Many toddlers will.

Llama Llama Wakey Wake by Anna Dewdney. It’s hard to go wrong, in my experience, with a Llama Llama book. The gentle themes, rhymes, and soft illustrations are universally appealing. What toddlers love about this book, in particular, is that it mirrors their own lives. They brush their teeth! They comb their hair! And, sometimes, they have to say goodbye to their mamas too. (Dewdney’s Llama Llama books were first designed for an older audience, but toddlers can enjoy spin-offs just for them like this one and Llama Llama Nighty-Night.)

Doggies by Sandra Boynton. No book list for toddlers would be complete without at least one title by Sandra Boynton. Her illustrations and lyrical prose appeal to all ages. This book is perfect for toddlers to share with an un-self-conscious adult who is prepared to make a fantastic variety of dog sounds. In no time at all, toddlers will be assigning unique calls to each featured dog. It’s also a subtle counting book and even younger readers will enjoy pointing to the dogs in turn. (At the end of the day, do not overlook Boynton’s classic, The Going to Bed Book.) Along the same vein is the slightly more verbose Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? by Dr. Suess. It introduces a sequence of wonderful sounds that you can make along with the amazing Mr. Brown, including the moo of a cow, the boom boom of thunder, and the sound of a hand on a door, knock knock.

I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak lists all the sides of a toddler that you love. Just as they need to hear stories at least 1,000 times before they’re reading to learn to read, they need to hear these messages of love and affirmation time and time again. They’ll eat it up and you’ll see it reflected back at you. This is a wonderful book to share with a child.

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle. When it comes to reading with toddlers, it’s a toss-up as to which Eric Carle book they will prefer, but odds are pretty good that they will be drawn to at least one. This is a close contender with the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and toddlers will choose it for it’s interactivity. The words and illustrations invite them to stretch and move their bodies in different ways, giving language to both familiar and previously un-articulated body parts and animals.

The Okay Book by Todd Parr. Most of Todd Parr’s books send a strong message that it’s “okay” to be yourself, to be different, and to do what makes you happy. This book is no exception and I love it for that. Toddlers will enjoy the bright illustrations (Todd Parr’s art is unique and delightful) and the simple, positive text.

You may also be interested in previous posts on Favorite Sensory Books and Favorite Nap Reads.

Now tell me: which books do your toddlers LOVE?

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Favorite Sensory Books

As a follow-up to my post about reading physical books, here are a few of my favorite sensory books for all ages.

Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg. This book is so much fun to read and explore, and it also demonstrates a powerful lesson about mistakes and resilience. It’s pretty irresistible for ages 3-103.

Scanimation books from Rufus Butler Seder amaze me. They have won awards, are sold in museums all over the world, and continue to dazzle adults just as much (if not more) than children. I advise you to start with Waddle, then Gallop, then Swing. Or vice versa. Try them all. You’ll come back to them again and again.

Fluffy Chick and Friends by Roger Priddy is a perennial favorite in my program, along with the others from the same line: Fuzzy Bee and Squishy Turtle. When my friend Anelie visited from Germany with her baby (now toddler), Finn, he had the book in German and we compared notes on how the verse, which I had read so many times that I had it memorized, differed in the translation (turns out the German version is less poetic). Cloth books can be pricey to buy, but these particular ones hold up very well to repeated machine washings and all the brutality groups of babies can inflict on them. Take my advice and never run Squishy Turtle through the dryer by mistake, however.

I really can’t say enough wonderful things about Sandra Boynton’s books for children of every age. They make people happy and they’re always a lyrical, enjoyable read. They’re designed for reading aloud, which puts them in the sensory book category, I think, along with the likes of Shel Silverstein and Dr. Suess. Your Personal Penguin is one that I know for certain comes with a digital song download to enhance your experience. Perhaps some of her others do as well?

Roger Priddy and Eric Carle teamed up to create a series of “Slide and Find” books like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Slide and Find, which adds a level of interactivity to the traditional story that can’t be beat for toddlers. This book has been tried and tested in my program and it’s a hands-down success. I recommend it for both shared reading experiences and solo discovery (great for a car trip, when little hands are big enough to support the fairly heavy book). We have tried a few of the other “Slide and Find” books and also enjoy Priddy’s Trucks, which will hold attention and appeal through preschool.

Another delightful Eric Carle sensory experience is The Very Quiet Cricket, recommended for ages three and up. My preschool class never tired of the surprise of hearing the cricket sound at the end of the book. It prompted many thoughtful discussions about crickets, insects, and sounds. As a result of discussions started by this book, we spent one lovely afternoon relaxing to an insect sounds CD, eyes closed.

I’m not a huge fan of the “Play-a-Sound” books, with the panel of sound buttons to the right of the story. In my experience, they distract (like an enhanced e-book) from the book a little too much. I like my books a bit more simple. However, this version of Puppy and Friends is not too offensive and provides a great tactile experience as well. Recommended for toddlers, rather than infants (there is a little too much happening at once for the younger audience, in my opinion). Priddy offers a whole line of “Touch-and-Feel” books, sans sounds, which appeal to infants, including On the Farm and Mealtime.

Tails by Matthew Van Fleet has become a really popular sensory book — I see it everywhere! With good reason. It’s a wonderful concept (children are drawn to animal tails) and beautiful execution. It’s not as sturdy as a board book, which is something to be aware of with infants and young toddlers, but it’s a very tactile experience.

Was this post helpful to you? Let me know and I will follow up with more reviews. Please share your own in the comments below!

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Toddler Outings

Last weekend, one of the families that I work with decided to take their young son to an area science museum. They had some relatives in town visiting and they were eager to see a special space exhibit there. They presumed that their seventeen-month-old son would be pretty excited by the exhibit as well, and they kind of built the experience up in their minds leading up to the day of the trip. I’m pretty sure that by the time their car was pulling into the parking lot of the museum, they had him hired on at NASA, donning his first spacesuit. The reality of the experience was grounding, to say the least. It turns out their toddler has a mind of his own and he chose to eschew the space exhibit in favor of the kelp forest full of fish. He could have spent hours there, his small face pressed to the glass, watching the fish swim back and forth and back and forth before his eyes, some of them larger than any fish he had ever seen before. Unfortunately for him, his family had an agenda for the day and the general consensus seems to have been that his interest in aquatic life was holding them back.

Come Monday morning, his dad couldn’t wait to report to us on this experience. “He had NO INTEREST in space,” he marveled, equal parts fascinated and disgusted. “We went ALL THE WAY there and he just wanted to see fish, like he can see every day here,” he gestured to our fish tank. “When we tried to get him away, he kept signing, ‘Fish! Fish!’ He started to cry when we tried to convince him to walk away.”

I felt the need to put on my Teacher Hat and turned to the toddler. “Oh my gosh, did you see so many fish?” I asked. He grinned and signed, ‘fish’. “You really like fish, don’t you? They’re so interesting to watch. I wonder what you see when you look at them. Did you notice that those fish were so much bigger than our small fish here? It’s interesting to see the differences, isn’t it?” I turned to his dad for a minute and observed, “It’s such a wonderful cognitive experience for him to see so many examples of something with the same classification. Now he understands that there are so many different sizes and colors and species, but maybe he is observing that all fish have certain things in common. He spent a long time thinking about that with birds, remember?”

“I thought he would be really excited about the space exhibit,” his dad grumbled.

“He might be a bit young,” I suggested gently, “‘Space‘ is a pretty abstract concept at his age, especially compared to real, live fish. If that is something that you are excited about though, I think he will probably be excited too in a few years — many children like to share in their parents’ interests. Some parents like to share in their child’s interests too. Who knows, maybe one day he will be a marine biologist and you will think, ‘It’s all because I took him to see the kelp forest!'”

His dad chuckled and went to work, while the toddler and I went over to feed our fish for the day. As one particularly speedy fish zoomed by, he gasped and pointed. I crouched beside him and tried to see what he saw. He looked at me and smiled, then looked back at the fish and pointed again at something happening inside the tank.

I know for a fact that no one reading this blog would ever take an experience like that for granted: having the opportunity to slow down and share in the wonder, awe, and excitement of a child seeing something through such fresh, new eyes. What a gift to spend time with people so new to the world, to the wonders of it all. What remarkable developmental milestones we can observe as a child communicates their amazement to us through signs, words, and gestures. Think of the neurons firing and strengthening as they assimilate so much information about a concept. And think of how this experience could be the foundation for future learning: about classification, about language, about diversity, about ecology, about community… The world is at your feet.

The Secret of Genius

Once when my niece, who is now seven, was a toddler, I took her to a park with the intention of feeding the ducks. “It will be so much fun!” I imagined, “We’ll see the ducks! We’ll give them bread! She can see them running and waddling and swimming. She is going to be so excited.” In the real world, where toddlers live, we never spent much time at all with the ducks because my niece was REALLY interested in some sticks that she found on the ground. At first, I wasn’t terribly impressed with the sticks. I didn’t know — couldn’t see, couldn’t understand — the inherent magic in the sticks, through those toddler eyes. I tried to cajole her to come nearer the ducks. I talked about the bread and the swimming and I may have even sung a little bit about ducks. She humored me for about a minute and a half, but then it was back to the sticks. When she found some leaves, I started to tune in. I got down on her level and just watched. It was a slice of heaven, as soon as I was able to let go of my duck obsession.

In case you ever find yourself in this situation, I have a little bit of toddler-specific advice for your theoretical outing.

  1. Release your time-related expectations. Things that you think may engage for hours may, in reality, engage for seconds. Things that you think will take only minutes may take hours. Especially if water is involved (see above regarding fish). Be prepared to go with the flow (no pun intended). If you start to feel frustrated or disappointed, remind yourself to check in with your child — engage yourself in their engagement. Be still.
  2. Don’t talk it to death. We love to talk at toddlers, don’t we? We think we’re giving them words for everything, and we are, but we don’t need to flood them all the time. Some shared experiences are quiet ones. Watching fish swimming back and forth and quietly acknowledging to one another, “Fish,” is a powerful shared experience. When your toddler is still, take a breath. Be present.
  3. With toddlers, do not over-plan. Never, ever over-plan. For example, if you’re making a trip to a science museum, don’t go with your own agenda. Find out what excites them. It may be people-watching! It may be the ants on the sidewalk outside. It may be the food court. Rather than that being a letdown, try to enjoy it for what it is and make discoveries side by side. Be open!
  4. Pack snacks. And extra snacks. Whatever you think they may need? Throw in an extra, just-in-case. Be prepared.
  5. Consider your expectations in advance. If there is a possibility that you will resent going, “ALL THE WAY,” to a destination and not getting what you want from the experience, it may not be the right time to attempt to share that experience with your toddler. Toddlers live in the moment and they can’t really get excited in advance of an experience. Give it a few years. Be realistic.

Just when you think your toddler is going to be a toddler forever and you will never again be sane, they turn — seemingly overnight — into slightly more rational, slightly less enthusiastic, slightly bigger, more coordinated people who are a lot easier and more predictable to take out into the world. And then you desperately hunger for that wild, sticky, impetuous, tyrannical, sweet little bundle of energy who compelled you to stop and watch the fish swim for hours. Don’t let that wonder and uncommon wisdom pass by without acknowledging its beauty. I have a theory that infants and toddlers are much, much closer to truly understanding the meaning of life than any of us will be again in our lifetimes.

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The Pattern-Seeking Brain in Action

In my previous post, I mentioned how young children (infants!) explore math concepts without being propped in front of flash cards and told that this is “math” and these are “numbers”. (Don’t you feel like it all goes wrong when we’re told it’s math?) Granted, there comes a time for written equations and the black and white of right or wrong answers, but one of the truly wonderful things about young brains is that they’re inherently wired to actively explore these concepts before they acquire our adult hang-ups and obsessions. I feel that the longer and more fully we can embrace this kind of hands-on learning, the more wildly successful our children will be.

There is a quote by Janet Gonzalez-Mena that beautifully encapsulates my experience as an infant/toddler educarer.

“The moment I decided to follow instead of lead, I discovered the joys of becoming part of a small child’s world.”

I’m at my very best in my job when I’m able to be still and observe. This is also when I’m most at peace with my work and most satisfied. This is when I’m reminded that my profession is a gift — to be able to see children at these remarkable stages of development from this unique perspective of both caregiver and observer is a privilege and a joy, wrapped up in a science I passionately adore.

Not long ago I had the opportunity, in the middle of a morning of absolute chaos, to observe one of my young toddlers actively exploring math concepts completely on his own. Over the course of this particular morning, our infants had used and discarded several teethers as they wriggled, writhed, and fussed through the hours after drop-off. Long a proponent of keeping things in order, this toddler (seventeen months old) marched around the room collecting the teethers from the floor. I smiled to myself, observing him, delighting in his orderly nature. What he did next took my breath away: he carried the teethers (four of them) to the counter and dumped them there. He looked at the pile, then laid them out in a row. He then lifted and shifted them, creating a pattern.

Patterning

There are a couple of ways to interpret the pattern he seemed to create. One would be by size: large, small, large, small.The other would be by character (the two larger teethers featured pictures of Elmo in the center of them, and he made a point of turning the pictures face-up): Elmo, non-Elmo, Elmo, non-Elmo. His work did not end there. Observing his array, he removed his pacifier from his mouth and sought to place it in the row. First he placed it to one side. Then he picked it up and centered it, two teethers to either side. This added a level of complexity to the pattern and revealed a sophisticated thought process that I — arguably his biggest fan — hadn’t imagined.

Toddlers are so breathtakingly intelligent.

Weeks later, I find myself returning to this experience for further reflection and marvel. I recall my time working with four and five year olds, gently but actively teaching them to recognize and construct patterns. I recall their struggles. I regret my own failings as a “teacher” back then: could I have been more in tune with the innate abilities they too had possessed as toddlers? Could I have more sensitively tapped into that to further their learning? Do we all somehow lose our innate pattern-seeking as we grow? Had these connections already been “pruned” from the brains of my preschoolers, thanks to lack of use? Perhaps. Perhaps their pattern-seeking had dimmed, replaced by skills more relevant to their GameBoys.

We know that babies come into the world seeking and recognizing patterns. Their brains are primed for cause and effect discoveries: when I cry, Mom comes. When I cry, Mom comes. When I cry, Mom comes. How long does this kind of thinking remain a priority? I’m not certain (although I am almost certain that someone, somewhere, could be studying that very topic right now), but what I am reminded of is that it is my gift to follow this particular toddler’s lead and see what can happen when he’s given the opportunity to pursue this avenue of active learning a little bit further. This could be just a sneak peek at the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Or just another child who has the chance to be empowered by, not frightened of, math concepts.

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