Toddlers Learn Through Play

I love when blog topics appear right before my eyes at the playground, thank you overzealous caregiver for today’s topic! To give you a bit of background before I launch into the story, I am currently reading How Toddlers Thrive, a helpful guide to understanding toddlers written by renowned expert Tovah P. Klein, PhD {more on Tovah’s book to come}. In a chapter entitled “Cracking the Code on Toddler Learning”, Tovah details how toddlers learn a tremendous amount through the act of playing, including the development of social and language skills. The idea that toddlers learn through play makes a lot of sense and seems quite obvious if you observe children, but all to often I notice well-intentioned adults stepping in.

Toddlers Learn Through Play

The scene of the crime

Toddlers Learn Through Play
Now that I filled you in on what’s been swarming through my brain lately, I’ll share my observations from the playground. My daughter, with her bucket in hand, approached a small water spout {a glorified faucet} at one of our favorite local playgrounds. I perched myself a few feet away from the water, to both save myself from getting wet and also to let her enjoy a bit of space. The caregiver mentioned above was with a young girl who looked to be the same age as my daughter, 18-months. Not surprisingly both girls wanted to fill up their buckets at the same time, but before they could even sort out a natural flow the caregiver lined them up and began assisting with filling up the buckets. She essentially acted as the water fountain referee when there was absolutely no need. My daughter is fully capable of holding her own in a situation like the one I described. She normally prefers to observe other children before she steps in herself and trust me when I say, if she wants to fill up her bucket, she will find a way.

In my opinion, I think the caregiver meant well, but she was a bit controlling and fully underestimated the abilities of the children. My daughter has played at the same park with other children and they always seem to find a way to sort it out. If I ever feel like a situation is getting out of hand, I have no problem stepping in and protecting my child, but it wasn’t warranted in this case. At the end of the day she still enjoyed herself despite being moved around like a puzzle piece – it was more my issue. 🙂

How do you feel about overzealous parents and caregivers? Would you intervene in a situation like the one I described? 




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