Sometimes parents look very unsure of themselves when they first come to Toddler Time or Storytime. They're not sure where they should sit, if they should make their child sit down and be quiet, and they especially don't know what to do with themselves once the program starts. Do they have to stand up and sit down for the songs? Do they have to do all the fingerplays? Can they visit with the person next to them? Can they go sit in the chairs and drink their coffee?
I'll tell you what I like to see at Toddler Time.
I like it when Mom comes in and sits in the circle with the other parents. I'll use "Mom", though I love seeing dads and grandparents. And it's great when the nanny gets to bring little Jacob or Emily (favorite names of 2008).
She lets her child greet the other kids and maybe start a spontaneous silly game, though she doesn't let it get out of hand with running and chasing. If her child wants to just watch from her lap, that's fine too. She says hi to the other parents, but when the music starts, she focuses on her child and the activity going on. She smiles encouragement to Emily and does the motions along with me, singing the song or saying the rhyme with me, though she doesn't have to stand up and sit down for every activity. Maybe Emily joins in too, maybe not, but she sees that Mom is engaged and participating, so she knows this is important to Mom, and that Mom is having fun, so she can too. Mom intervenes quickly if Emily gets a little too rambunctious with the other kids. When it's time for a story to be read, Mom makes sure Emily sits on her bottom in front of me, but if Emily would rather sit in Mom's lap, that's not a problem. Mom listens quietly to the story and doesn't use it as visiting time, since she wants to be a good role model to Emily. After all, Emily learns how to behave in groups and how much importance to place on paying attention to the teacher by watching Mom. Whenever Emily makes an attempt to sing, do motions, or participate, Mom is her best cheerleader, with smiles and clapping when it's over.
That's a great mom!
Here's what I like to see at Preschool Storytime.
Mom brings Jacob in, and he greets the other kids. She doesn't expect him to sit down and be silent for the six or seven minutes before the program begins. She lets him make friends or play a little game that doesn't involve chasing or turning cartwheels. Mom sits in the chairs or on the edge of the circle and says hi to other parents. When I start the program, she quiets down and sets a good example of listening when the teacher reads. A quiet comment here or there is okay, but if lots of parents visit during a story, it gets very distracting. Mom keeps an eye on Jacob since she knows he just recently graduated from Toddler Time and sometimes he gets antsy and starts to visit with other kids in the middle of the story. If I can't get his attention back, mom intervenes with a whisper in the ear, or by moving him to the back of the group where he can sit in her lap and keep listening. It's hard for me to read a story well if I have to interrupt it several times to try to quiet a child. If Jacob's done with Storytime, even though I'm not, that's okay and they can leave. Some younger ones just aren't ready for a thirty minute program. They'll grow into it. When Storytime is over, she praises Jacob for being such a good listener, and asks him about his favorite story.
What a great mom! See you next week.