As the Toddlers of Cohorts 10 and 12 continue to blossom into these amazing little people I wanted to take note of all that they are doing. In the past weeks I have really forced myself to slow down, watch closely and just get back to the basics. So much of our daily routine seems rushed, like we’re constantly moving towards the next phase. When I step back and look at what is happening I realize no one is being rushed, they have just gotten the hang of things, are doing so much for themselves and our “jobs” just go that much faster. Everyone is doing so much more on their own these days and it was one of those slow progression that I didn't notice daily but now that I look at the bigger picture I am impressed.
Selfcare is happening independently now. If they get their shirt wet while washing their hands, they remove it, put it in the laundry and go to their cubbies to retrieve a dry one without skipping a beat. Our frequent bathroom breaks are now swift, and children are often going in to use the toilet on their own without needing assistance. They are also displaying ownership and taking a lot of responsibility for their belongings; hanging their jackets, returning their boots to the boot box, returning everything to their cubbies once they found the socks they were digging for. We have the task of getting nap mats ready before sitting down for lunch everyday; everyone washes their hands after coming in from outside, retrieves their napping essentials and takes them to their mats. I offer minimal assistance- only handing them the correct side of their sheet and they do the rest. During meal times everyone collects dishes from the shelf like the masters they are, they retrieve clothes for any spills that happen while we eat, and they clean their places when done eating, being sure to put any remaining food in our compost bowl and their dishes in the tub. We even have a system going with the tub so that plates go on one side and cups go on the other- this helps all of our dishes fit in the tub and prevents accidental breakage of dishware, some children take this very seriously and take the liberty of correcting any misplaced dishes.
Along with all the work they are doing to take care of themselves, their belongings and the things that they use; they are very aware of their bodies and needs and doing great work practicing to verbalize everything. We have lots of conversations about their bodies and what they need, especially in the bathroom: Child “I don’t need to pee.” Me “I hear you don’t need to pee, I just want you to sit on the toilet and give your body time. If no pee comes that’s ok.” Child “I tried, and I had pee!” or “I tried and there was no pee.” Me “You did have pee!” Or “You knew your body didn’t have pee, thanks for trying.” Lately I have been noticing a lot of times when children want to play together to do jumps, or dance or work on a puzzle and other times when they feel strong about having space and doing their work independently. During these times some conflicts may arise and I simple sportscast what I am seeing or noticing or suggest what children can tell their peers that they need. Child “You wanna jump with me?” Peer “Yeah!” or “No!” Me “You wanted them to jump with you, and it works!” or “You really wanted someone to jump with, sounds like they’re not available. You can do jumps by yourself or you can check with __ to see if they are available.” Then on the other side of the spectrum… Child shouts, “NO! This is my work.” Me “That is such a clear message. That puzzle is their work and they want to do it by themselves right now.” Often, I will suggest that they move or ask for space if they feel the other child is too close to their work.
Frequently these days I notice a lot of back and forth… Some days it works for them to be chased on bikes, they even go as far as to ask their peer to chase them. Other times they feel strongly about riding solo and let their peers know it does not work to follow them. This same frame of mind can be applied to almost all of their play. Being a toddler is tricky. They are still very much so in the “Mine” phase but also creating games and wanting to find ways to play with their peers. They are also still figuring out all their big feelings and working through and identifying new emotions. They have come so far in verbalizing their feelings and expressing their needs and I can’t wait to see where they are off to next.