In their own time, and in their own way

Last week, I did something I’ve been excited to do for weeks and weeks…the weather was finally just right…the air was chilly, but the sun was warm…the grass was enticing and the soil wasn’t muddy. My mobile infants were, well, quite mobile…and they’d spent months navigating my playroom and deck, climbing over boxes and practicing going up and over the stairs. So, I did it.

I opened the gate to the yard.

I was sooo excited. The parents were, too. I announced my intention and walked outside and ceremoniously opened the gate to the wide stairs that would lead children down to the grassy yard. I expected a stampede.

Instead, I got the opportunity to observe.

When a parent first comes to class, I ask them to sit down someplace with their child and then…wait. We watch to see when the child is ready to separate and move into the playspace. What entices them? Do they go quickly and far, or do they dart out for a toy and then return? For the parent with a child who isn’t ready to play, it can be really hard to wait. You see the awesome set up, the interesting toys, the exciting equipment…all for them, and you want them to go and play and enjoy. Instead, in a RIE class, we ask you to wait and watch. It’s not about the toys, it’s about their readiness. But it can be hard…I get it…I REALLY get it after Tuesday!!

As much as I wanted to entice, as excited as I was, instead I bit my tongue and just waited. I’m so glad I did! Each child approached (or didn’t) the stairs to the yard in their own way and did their own thing with them. One child wanted to go up and down and up and down, working on finding his balance, but didn’t care about the yard. One went down once and decided it wasn’t for her. One flew down the steps and immediately crossed the grass to get to the very edges of the space. One child competently and confidently maneuvered down the stairs and immediately tried to start sampling the grass. One got to the bottom stair, which I’d covered with a thick towel because it is concrete, and immediately stretched out on his stomach and sucked his thumb. And one child stayed inside with his mother, pretending to drink from her travel mug.

In their own time and in their own way, each child found or will find their way into the playspace, the yard, and in this world.

It’s up to us to let them continue to listen to that inner voice that directs them.