Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cycles of Activity

Children are constantly changing beings with different needs, wants and curiosities from one day to the next. They explore their world with their whole body involving all senses and their full potential. They are driven to figure out their place here through these explorations, and their natural tendency for order causes them to engage in cycles of activity.  Sometimes these can seem very random to an adult who is watching. It can also be predictable, and you can create opportunities to invite your child to find a cycle.

Cycles of Activity are when you see a child repeating the same activity over and over again. Their full concentration is there, and it might seem like nothing can distract them away from it. Their eyes are focused on what their hands are doing. Their whole body is engaged in the activity. If they are sitting at a table working, only the necessary parts of their body are moving, or if they are climbing, then each piece of their body is working together with focused effort. You might notice that the child's breathing deepens with the calmness that comes from concentrated focus. Cycles of activity can be anything from repeating that step of washing your hands where you rinse the bubbles off (only to make them soapy and do it again) to climbing up and over an obstacle over and over again. The sure sign that a child is engaged in a cycle of activity is the presence of that concentration followed by repeated activity with the end goal of perfecting something.

It is important that perfection in this situation not be confused with perfectionism. The perfection that the child is aiming for is to achieve or complete a task at a level not yet attained. The child is constantly aiming higher to build on their previous learning. They seek improvement and refinement through repeating certain tasks which can be called cycles of activity. They are friendly with the idea that they are always getting better at what they do; it could almost be called cycles of perfection, constantly aiming for that better understanding, refinement and comprehension.

The child's biggest work, especially during toddlerhood, is mastery of the self. These cycles of activity happen spontaneously when their attention is drawn. All humans are born with certain instincts, such as the suck reflex and 'death grip', but in this cycle of concentration – repetition – perfection is an inherent power which guides us to accomplishment. Concentration is the key, and concentration is stimulated by our curiosity and interest. You know when a child is interested because the signs of concentration pop up, and they focus their entire being on whatever it is. It might last for 5 seconds or as long as 20 minutes. They might
leave the activity only to return to it 5 minutes later.  A sense of pleasure occurs after they have finished a cycle. It's that same satisfaction that is felt after a task is completed. You might notice a huge smile or even just a contented aura in the child once they've moved on to their next interest. They have satisfied whatever need was being fulfilled while working through the cycle.

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