Sam is back! After 16 days at his grandparents’ in Ohio, Sam demonstrates how toddlers are designed to develop by way of shining a lantern on his world and discovering it bit by bit to be ready for school. By experiencing the world around him first-hand and by interacting with parents, siblings and caregivers, he learns new vocabulary words, learns about the structure of language, learns how to be social, learns to manage and understand his own and others’ emotions, and learns to process the world through his senses, especially the “school readiness” senses of looking, listening and doing.
In the video, Sam doesn’t respond to my initial question of “What happened?,” but he is willing to share about his play with his 6-year old sister Stella (during which Sam willingly agreed to be dressed up and behave like a baby). If I had stopped trying to engage him about the problem he was having, there would have been a missed opportunity for Sam to talk about his play. But, even more importantly, he would have missed the opportunity to come closer to me in order to discuss the topic at hand (Why he was dressed in a baby shirt?), climb onto the lazy susan in the middle of the dining room table, discover the physics involved in making the lazy susan spin and the feeling of going around on it, sharing a “social-emotional moment” of happiness with his mom and siblings, and learning the name of the wooden object that spins around to deliver ketchup, napkins or whatever happens to be there to someone on the opposite side of a table (Although the lazy susan has been there for a year, the name of it has never come up until now, and it was only through his spinning and interacting with it just then that the learning opportunity arose so naturally!).
When a child is allowed to shine his lantern of consciousness on the world around him in a safe, guided way, he will learn the language, emotional, social and sensory skills he needs to be ready for school the day he arrives. As parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers, it is crucial to remember that development happens best in this manner, and not in the spotlight of consciousness style that we adults use for success on the job, in our community, or at home.