What Happens When You Count To 12
I have a question for you. What happens when you count to 12? Let's count.
That may seem like a long time when you're with a toddler because it takes a toddler 12 times longer to process a piece of information than it takes for you to process it.
If you process something instantaneously within one second, it takes your toddler 12 seconds to process that information.
The next time you're in a hurry and you're telling your toddler, "Hurry, put on your shoes. Put on your coat. We have to go, we have to go," and they're standing there going, "Oh," ...
It's taking them 12 seconds to process what you're saying to them and to try to understand it.
What does it mean?
It means that we have to have a lot more patience.
I'm going to give you a little bit of information about how toddlers learn best so that we can help this relationship and we can help the learning process go smoothly for you.
Many of you know I was just in New Orleans for a Kindermusik conference. It was a fabulous conference full of experts in the fields of early childhood development.
One of my favorite sessions, I did two sessions with her, is with Dr. Stephanie Johnson.
She wrote a wonderful book called Baby Bare.
Baby Bare is about developing the child from the bottom up.
Think about developing from the bottom up, from the brain stem on up.
It all starts through movement.
If you have not heard of Baby Bare and you have a baby, go get the book.
It's really insightful on how your baby learns best.
Toddlers are all over the place, but they're in the present moment.
Adults may be all over the place. You feel like you're pulled in all different directions. Very often, we're in the past and the future. We're thinking about what happened, we're thinking about what we have to do next, and your child is really in the present here and now.
Even though they may seem like they're a bit all over the place, it's because it's taking them a lot longer to process the information in the world around them right here and now, than it takes you to process it.
We can become a bit impatient or maybe we think they don't understand us.
They do, it just takes them longer.
They are really the experts of being in the present moment.
We should really stop and take a look and observe our children because they are in the present moment.
Everything they see in the room they think is theirs to explore and create and express with. They're almost like little Zen creatures discovering the world around them.
We should really learn from them because if we would step back and be in the moment and take in the wonder of the world around us, in the room around us, in nature around us as we're taking a walk, it would be a much more calming and joyful experience for us, too.
Put yourself in your child's mind.
Relax a bit, be patient, let them explore and learn the way they do best, without us interrupting them all the time.
I know it's very natural to do that.
We are in a society that values quickness. We want instant gratification.
I often say, when parents bring their children to Kindermusik classes for the first time, "Oh, this is not an instant gratification class. It may take a long time for your child to really settle in and get into the flow of what's happening in class."
We are not instantaneous. We are not results driven in one or two classes. It may take time. It takes at least six to eight weeks for the magic to truly start to happen in class.
Keep that in mind, patience is key if you want to help your child develop in the way they learn best.
Patience, patience, patience ...
That means that when you take them some place and you're constantly putting stimulation in front of them, "Here's this toy. Here's that toy. Go climb on the slide. Go swing on the swing. Let's go do this. Let's go do that."
Stop, slow down, cut about 60% out of what you're doing.
Let your child just sit and explore.
One of the best things you can do is let them be outside in nature.
The four ways that toddlers learn:
When they have something in their hands and they're manipulating it, they're looking at it, they're turning it over, and they're flipping it upside down.
Very often in class, children take our drums and turn them over and look inside, that's manipulation.
Observe and Imitate
Children observe what's going on around them. They observe you, they observe other children, and then they will imitate it. Those are our mirror neurons starting to take action. When they imitate you, that is the very first form of pretend play, and we all know play is essential to your child's learning.
Repetition and Consistency
In Kindermusik classes, we will repeat activities for three our four weeks. Consistency in how we present the class to you:
“Hello circle” followed by a “Lap ride” followed by a movement activity, having an instrument play, having a free dance followed by a quiet time followed by a story time.
That consistency is how their brains relax and open up for learning. They need that repetition, it's key to how they learn.
Exploration and Play
Through exploration and play, that's how your child learns. That means when they're in the backyard playing in the sprinkler and they're having a lot of fun, and you start asking them questions, "Oh, how many toes do you have? How many trees do we have in the backyard? What color is this sidewalk chalk? What color is that bird?" You're interrupting their play.
You need to let them explore the way they explore. When they want you to play with them, they're going to turn around and look at you and they're going to come over and take your hand, "Mommy, come play with me. Mommy, come explore with me." That's the message they're giving you.
From age zero to seven is the body's time to truly take all of this play time and exploration time in to organize in our bodies.
One of the best ways to do this is through music. Engagement with music is a wonderful way to encourage development.
Stephanie Johnson said to us, "Interacting with music is completely enough." It's enough. It's enough to get everything stimulated and moving so that they will learn.
Notice your child.
What are they doing as they're playing outside?
Notice them, "I see you're working really hard to draw the chalk in a straight line on the sidewalk so that you can then walk on your tightrope,"
Not only does noticing help them know that you recognize them, but it invites you into their world.
It really gets a connection going so that you can engage with your child.
Engage with them without interrupting them.
We want to engage.
We want to be with them.
We want to interact, partake in the learning.
Do it patiently and do it slowly because it takes your child 12 times longer to process something than it takes for you to process it.
Let's not interrupt the flow of how they're learning and what they're learning.
I invite you and sit back and observe your child this week. Watch them interact themselves.
What are they reaching for?
Are they turning it over?
Are they lining trains up in a certain order?
Are they pushing them a certain way, but without you interrupting.
Then, what do they do next?
Are they adding to that play? Are they moving on to something different?
Are they exploring in a longer more in depth way?
Boy, that's going to help their focus and attention span as they get older.
I invite you to sit back, observe, and notice your child this week. Slow it down, be patient, breath, and take note of how they learn on their own with you, interacting when you're invited.