One thing that I’ve noticed as a mom is that my daughter learns an awful lot of important stuff from playing! You’ve heard old that expression “Experience is life’s best teacher“? For children, this experience comes in large part from play and the interactions they have with playmates. We all know that children can teach each other a great deal during play, but I have been pleasantly surprised to discover all of the things that my daughter learns by playing with me!
We play “I Spy” and learn our colors, shapes, sizes and more! Hide and seek, peek-a-boo, action songs and finger games can help to increase motor skills, vocabulary and build bonds between parents and toddlers. But more amazing are the emotional lessons that children discover through play. Lessons like kindness, generosity and compassion. We often sit on the floor in her bedroom and play with her baby dolls, Care Bears and My Little Ponies. We brush their hair, change their outfits and make them “WOOP-POW” each other like little ninjas. If one of them ever gets hurt or sick, she never fails to scoop them up into her arms, wrap them in a blanket and administer a comforting dose of medicine. Afterward, she’s sure to point out to me that it’s now time for ice cream and a movie for the baby. :)
I’m in complete awe of her…in awe of kids and how much they learn from us. It amazes me everyday how much they can pick up and how well they are able to mimic our actions in day to day life. I suppose it shouldn’t shock me, but it does. I am shocked by the incredible humility of young children and their instinctual desires to care for those around them and bring a smile to our faces. And she does everyday.
Through her actions and thoughts, I can see that she has learned a lot from our playtimes together. Sometimes we’ll take out her little princess castle and put her baby Care Bears inside. I pretend to be the voice of the yellow one or the blue one and play peek-a-boo with her through the little windows. I love watching her laugh and laughing with her. She likes me to make her stuffed animals talk to her too and sometimes she’ll have long, dramatic conversations with the stuffed penguin I’m holding before she even realizes that I’m the one doing the talking….lol. I love her imagination.
Recently, she decided that she wanted to start teaching her stuffed ducky how to use the potty and he has been a great help in making her more comfortable with the whole experience. Mi pequeñita sits him on the toy potty and tells him not to be scared and then proceeds to tell him a story in case he has trouble going. She helps him wipe, gets him dressed and dishes out plenty of high fives. “You awesome!” she squeals, “You so big!” And then she teaches me something. She teaches me that despite all the criticism parents may take from the community about their parenting styles, you gotta know that you’ve done something right when you raise such compassionate and loving kids. She helps me to let all the “big” stuff melt away and appreciate the little, but so very important, things…like playing together.