Follow the leader

This morning I took the Jibbers to his weekly Gymboree class, “Family Play Time,” which is usually followed by about an hour of “Open Gym.”

During the Family Play Time I am always amazed at the way the Gymboree staff turn simple gym equipment into a barn one week, an elephant another week or a firetruck which was the theme for this week. Their imagination and their understanding of the world of young children is awesome. So much so, that they are always so understanding when the Jibbers refuses to participate by not answering any questions or prefers to follow along by simply watching from the sidelines; unless, of course, it is the parachute or the bouncy log. Who can resist the bouncy log?!

However, once the Family Play Time is done, then emerges the Jibbers totally in charge of his surroundings and doing what he loves best: the master of his own destiny. He looks forward to Open Gym or what he refers to as Free Play. And it’s amazing how he is able to sweep up the other children in a game that the Jibbers calls  Catch-me-if-you-can game which is a mix of follow-the-leader and tag. All the children seamlessly take turns being the leader and running at almost top speed through the obstacle course set up. Our job as parents is simply to get out of the way.

And we love it. The children get exhausted and we get excited at the thought of them possibly taking an even longer nap than usual. But more than that watching them play with minimal scuffles and sorting it out for themselves is amazing. Really. The leader is the one who at any given time is running the fastest or the one who chooses to change the direction or whatever comes to the mind of these precocious three and four year old destiny-makers.

It reinforces in me the need for children to have space and time to play in an unstructured environment, free from any adult intervention knowing that if needed Mama or Papa are nearby. The joy on these children’s faces is breathtaking. Watching them do whatever their imagination lets them is simply awesome.  It is this unharnessed creativity that leads to problem solving, social skills and more. We as parents just need to give them that time to develop it.

Every day of every child should have some time, some place where they decide who they are going to be and what they are going to do and for how long.

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~ by Omaira on May 24, 2013.

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