Thursday, January 7, 2010

Library Story Time

Our kids don't attend preschool. Of course, when they hit official school age, they will not attend school either. They funny thing is even now, at age 3, I get so many comments from others about where they attend school. Not IF they attend school, but WHERE they attend school, like it's just a given. When one woman asked me that question at my daughter's ballet class, and I told her they don't attend school (it's not even called preschool now by many, but SCHOOL), she just gave me a little sad smile, and said,"That's ok. Some kids just aren't developmentally ready for school yet." It took all my strength not to shout at her, "They're just fine developmentally. Development has nothing to do with it. I want them free to explore the larger community, not just one building, without having what they do so directed at such a young age."

People, though I can't imagine why, have concerns that if kids are not sitting for six hours a day in the same room with same age kids, they will somehow grow up to be socially malajusted. While I will not write in this post why this thinking is so fundamentally off-base (kids growing up living in the real world among a diversity of different-aged people are years and years ahead of their peers socially), I will say that I don't belive all types of more structured programs are harmful for young children, if, and this is a big IF, the child has a choice in attending the program,and it's for a short amount of time.

While the stories in the library story time program are ones I would have read the kids when they were closer to twelve to eighteen months and much different than the novels we have started reading together, they do get some pleasure out of sitting near other kids and sharing a common experience, although for the most part, they still want to sit in my lap during this time.

Alexa particularly loves singing, so she loves the song time the most. After stories and songs, the librarians have a small craft project for the kids to do. During this time, it is so interesting to see how focused parents (or in this case mostly nannies and grandparents) are in making sure thier child does the craft in the "correct" way. I admit even I have had a hard time in this respect. I was a kid who loved paint by numbers. I wanted to do things the "correct" way. Just now, as an adult, I've been able to see how hindered I was in creative expression as a child. I've been very careful to always, always give my kids art and craft materials and let them play with them as they will. I curb my desire for having a "correctly done" craft project by doing one for myself at the same time the kids are working on theirs. I've allowed myself to get more creative and move beyond the "safe" boundaries of the directions, and they kids have also seen how I am making my craft project and have asked me to help them paste things or draw things in a more conventional manner from time to time, too.

*The picure at the top of the post shows the ghost hangers the kids made at the library program the week before Halloween.

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