Off to Play school

There comes a time in every tot’s little life, when it’s time to go and mingle with other tots. Some have the priviledge of staying at home with mum or a full time minder for a few years, others are sent off to a child care centre the moment mummy finishes maternity leave.

The baby books will tell you that babies generally don’t play with others their age until they are at least 18 months old. They need to interract with an adult who’s mind is developed enough to deal with them. Of course, there may be young siblings around them who they sort of interract with – but leave two of them alone together and they have difficulty actually playing with each other.

At this age tots are pre-occupied with the things around them (and yes the hair or nose or face of another baby becomes ‘things to grab’!) and rely on the input of intelligent adults to smooth the whole ‘growing up process’. At this stage they are still learning about themselves, with constant input or minding of their parents, close relatives or minder, so that they aren’t quite sure how to deal with another their age.

No doubt all parents have friends with babies the same age and have been delighted at the prospect of putting them together only to see them ignore each other. We excitedly threw a 1st birthday party for Luka, and about 10 babies under 18 months showed up, many almost his age. We sat him in the play pool with five other little girls and he wasn’t the least bit interested in them!

Anyway, getting to the point of the title, we finally decided it was time to send him to play school (at 16 months) since he was getting bored and restless at home with the same old toys and people. I work from home and he was becoming a pain, interrupting me and insisting I amuse him. Time for some proper play school activities. Besides (BIG NEWS) our second child is due in October so it was time, we thought, to get him out the house in good time.

Well, in short, he loved it. The first day we dropped him off he never looked back, excited at the new environment and the group of children playing around. It’s just a converted house full of play items, and the little ones of various ages amuse themselves all day under supervision. With children as old as three or four to ‘lead the gang’ he’s found himself among his first real pals and can tag along and join in.

Of course, by the second week he was experiencing separation anxiety and would be in tears when we dropped him off, but didn’t want to leave when we came to pick him up. The main thing is, he’s now learning to interract with other tots. The other evening we were out eating and there was a group of kids (between 16 months and 6 years) larking around and he excitedly made a bee-line for them and joined in their general energetic maelstrom. He seemed pleased to have the chance to hang out with people his own age.

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