For the preschool crowd, it is officially SUMMER! Let’s get this vacay underway!

WHAT’S HAPPENING? Have a morning of adventure and head into center city to the Romare Bearden Park 

The Lynx line (the train) extends from Carolina Pavilion on South Blvd, to UNCC, with Park and Ride lots all along it. 

It’s perfect for a picnic, there are boulders to scale (kid-size and manageable), a big field for running and playing, an interactive, musical children’s play area, and a jump in/ jump out waterfall- smack in the middle of the tall buildings! It’s free, novel, and there are coffee shops nearby (yay!)

 

YOU PLAYIN’ YET? 

Grab some heavy glass jars- think mason jars, mid-size, a tub of water, a child-size plastic pitcher or measuring cup, a lightweight metal teaspoon, and a patch of grass. Pour different amounts of water into the jars and hit the sides of them with the teaspoon. Voila! They have a pitch. You can add or pour out water to tweak the tones, to show the child what can happen, and then leave them to it. If you use heavy glass, preschoolers are not strong enough to break the jars. It’s kind of magical. (To understand why I am suggesting this, keep reading) 

 

GIVE ME THE GOODS: 
So, give a child glass to play with? Have I lost my sense of safety? Here’s the secret: this was my favorite thing to do at my grandmother’s house in the summer. I was mesmerized and laser focused, altering the amount of water in the jars to be able to play the songs I had in my head. I was not a prodigy; it was something I could do by myself, my very own mini music laboratory. 

It wasn’t until decades later when I trained to be a Montessori teacher that I understood WHY I was so engrossed: the activity called to me, it hit my developmental sweet spot for self-discovery. The fact is that children have great powers of concentration if they’re given ‘work’ that calls to them. Dr. Montessori said, “Follow the child.” In other words, see what the child wants to do, and make that available to them. 

With this in mind- making available what kids are drawn to-let’s break down this activity:

INDEPENDENCE: can the child do it unassisted? Children crave independence, so anything they can do by themselves is a perfect endeavor, and if it is musical, all the better! 

ORDER: What comes first? What’s next? When is it finished? When do I start over? The order of dipping the measuring cup into the water and pouring it into the jars (both practical life skills they can practice and perfect), setting it down, pinging the jars, listening for ‘accuracy’, emptying, dipping, pouring, pinging...you get the idea. 

CONCENTRATION: The reason a child is quiet when they get the remote control isn’t because they’re being mischievous; it’s because they’re INTERESTED. They see us do it- phones, remotes, keys, cooking, computers, etc.- and want to do it. Dr. Montessori realized that what is work for adults is play for a child. Anytime children can be involved in such grown-up activity (dipping, pouring, measuring), they are doing ‘real’ work. It scratches a developmental itch we might not realize they have. 

Children want to take care of themselves and help others. Observing and facilitating experiences that allow children to build on their abilities at their own pace is a profound way to support your child. The magic is often in the mess. (I did mention- do this on the grass, right?)