My toddler doesn’t always play the “right way.” For instance, he actually complains when I try to sit him in a swing. Instead, he wants to be on the ground so that he can pull the swing, let go and watch it sway back and forth. He has even added a few variations of this game: he’ll grab the swing and pull it out to the side to see it sway left and right instead of forward and back. And each time he does this, he squeals with delight, as if he has just discovered the most entertaining game ever.
I don’t understand why some librarians are angry with the children when they are playing (or in your case, stacking up books). Isn’t that one of the points of a public library? To engage the children in books? It doesn’t mean they have to ALWAYS read the book. They are exposed to it.
In that post, I mentioned how one of my toddler’s friends spent a good chunk of the time pulling out books from the shelves and stacking them on a table. I considered this perfectly normal; unfortunately the librarian did not, and complained loudly why kids keep doing this. Oster’s Mom brings up a good point that books aren’t meant to be just read. Sure, that’s their primary function, but to a toddler, books offer so much more than reading a story. And in LO’s friend’s case, they offered an opportunity for him to practice pulling objects and stacking a neat pile.
When my toddler was younger, I used to cringe when I would see him head towards his fire truck but, rather than ride it, he would scrutinize the underside or fiddle with the buttons. He was also fascinated with the seat and would spend several minutes lifting it up and down and placing objects inside. But he hardly rode on it. When his friends came over, they immediately sat on the truck, scuttling their feet and “driving.” “Why isn’t my toddler riding his truck?” my ever so worrisome self asked. “Isn’t this a milestone that he should be able to do?”
I realize now that no, it’s not a milestone, nor is it an indication of anything other than a little boy’s insatiable curiosity about how things work. And sometimes that curiosity requires him to play differently. There are plenty of ways that we encourage him to play “the right way.” For instance, we model the proper way to read books, which is left to right, up to down, because eventually he’ll need this skill when learning how to read. But we don’t step in if he suddenly wants to flip pages back and forth, all in the wrong order, or even use the books as a boogie board (yes, he has done this on our carpet).
I want my toddler to explore a toy and decipher its function himself. If we define how each toy was meant to be played with, he may assume that there’s only one answer to every question, one authority over every possibility. Instead, we don’t want to limit his curiosity. There will always be something to learn—whether it’s mastering object permanence by hiding items inside a truck, or discovering momentum in the pull of a swing.
Do your kids play in unconventional ways?
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