Featured Picture Book
A VIOLIN FOR ELVA by Mary Lyn Ray
(Available at your local public library or bookstores, including online stores.)
There was no violin for Elva no matter how much she asked for one as a child. But, Elva never gave up on the idea of playing the violin. For years she would pretend she was playing. For years she would pretend she was getting ready for a recital. When Elva was all grown up, she still dreamed of having a violin. “‘I’m too old now,’ she told her dog.” But, Elva didn’t really believe she was too old. In her senior years, she finally bought herself her long desired violin. She took lessons. And, she played in her first recital. She finally was “making music” – her long-held dream.
Kids naturally explore. It is part of their growing up. It is through exploring that they take in new information, develop a love of learning, and become more independent and confident in themselves.
Believe it or not, a child becomes a little explorer as early as 6- to 18-months old. You will know he is in this stage when you see him:
- Creeping and crawling;
- Pulling everything down;
- Opening up every drawer and cupboard;
- Eating with his hands;
- Running ahead of Mom and Dad on the sidewalk and in the store aisles
Your job as a parent at this age is to encourage the exploration while making sure both your child and your important things are safe. When your child feels safe, that is when he will be the best explorer. And, the more he is successful at exploring at this age, the better learner he can be when he gets to school. After all, school is just one big exploration.
A Second Stage of Exploration
Another time that kids focus on exploring is when they begin trying out every new thing they hear about – playing all the sports, trying out every musical instrument, and dabbling at all sorts of hobbies.
At this point, they are trying out everything, but sticking to nothing. This might be as they begin elementary school and maybe again as they begin middle school.
It’s normal for kids at those ages to start a lot of things, but not always want to finish what they start. They are in a phase of discovery – figuring out what turns them on, what floats their boat, what they are good at, what makes them a star.
Your job as a parent at these ages is to give them plenty of opportunity to explore and to teach them what their responsibilities are as explorers. They can be free to jump around from activity to activity, but “middle-jumping” should be discouraged.
For example, if you pay the money and make the time to support their “try outs,” they need to finish all the lessons paid for. They can jump out of the activity at the next sign up, but not in the middle.
If they become a member of a team, they need to meet their “promise” to their team members and not ruin the experience for others by jumping off. Again, they can jump off the team at the end of a season and never join again, but not in the middle.
Eventually, kids will settle into activities that they are good at and that spark their dreams and imagination. Then, your job as a parent is to help them develop their skills and talents. Our post on December 1 will be about that very thing – the development of a skill in our children.
While you are thinking about exploration stages for your kids, also think about your own exploration – just like Elva did in A VIOLIN FOR ELVA. Ask yourself, “What do I wish I had done when I was young?” Follow Elva’s example. Keep your dream alive. Make your “music” no matter how old you are.
GROWING UP AGAIN, Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson
SELF ESTEEM A FAMILY AFFAIR, Jean Illsley Clarke
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? Jean Illsley Clarke, Connie Dawson, and David Bredehoft
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