Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Walking to School

Children fascinate me. They always have and probably always will. I never tire of watching them. Their innate curiosity and drive to make sense of their world is proof of how well equipped they are when they come to us. Fortunate for us, we do not have to instill in them a desire to move, communicate, problem solve, and adapt. Parenthood would take on a whole new dimension if that responsiblity fell in our laps!

At no other time in life do we approach new experiences and opportunites for learning with such gusto and determination. The infant brain is almost complete at birth. As a matter of fact, many brain cells are pruned in the first years because they are not used or needed. Infants are learning not only the skills needed for survival and function; they are learning about relationships. Each hug, kiss or act of affection or love shapes the brain and "builds" the hardware with which the infant interprets life. Babies who are deprived or neglected approach the world with fear and hyperviligence. Babies who are loved and exposed to many opportunities for exploration see the world as a safe place where good things will happen.

The bottom line is this - the most important achievement in the first years is attachment to a caring adult who loves you, meets your needs, and keeps you safe. Without that learning is difficult, if not impossible. It's really quite simple. The good news is that poor parents can parent as well as rich. Things are not that important, but relationships are. If you want the brightest kid on the block, make him or her the most loved kid on the block. I love this truth.

So, what else do babies learn in the first years? Maybe I can illustrate by showing what Bailey learned in her 15 minute walk today.

Flowers are pretty and smell good.

Going fast is fun!

Cars make lots of noise!

Rocks are heavy and don't taste too good.

Bark isn't very interesting.

Walking is a fast way of getting around!

Riding in my new wagon is fun.

Hi Grandma! I know you.

People love me.

I can climb a step.

A step can pose a problem!

So, my message is - forget the flash cards and the classes. Go for a walk. Remember that children have a fresh, unfilterd view of the world. Everything is new and everything is game. In one hour of play they pretty much cover their math, science, language, physics, and kinesthetic courses for the day. And, they do it with a pure joy of learning. Wouldn't it be nice if we could do the same?


  1. You have such an adorable grandbaby! They don't come cuter than her. I can tell that this little baby is definitely loved and she is already showing how smart she is. Walking at what 10 months if proof of that...

  2. That is the most amazing post ever. It never ceases to amaze me that Bailey's favorite toys are straws, sharpies and paper. I love that I have the best resource right at my finger tips. Aren't you guys jealous?

  3. I can't believe she is walking, and how cute that little face is and her expressions are. This is a great post. I am not a flashcards mom, nor am I big into signing the kids up for lots of classes and things. I love knowing that they just need to know they are loved. It's hard to not let myself get distracted by all the stuff that "needs to get done," but I will work on it! It's interesting how I enjoy my kids (and think they behave so much better) when I am 100% tuned into them instead of trying to clean the house or (ahem) read blogs.

  4. I'm so impressed she is walking too and her hair looks like it is coming in dark! I'm glad to hear that all the time I spend cuddling Ryan and mugging on him is not a waste--even when the house looks like a bomb went off.

  5. First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PANDY!! (Your card will get there on Mon or Tues.) I love it when you "catch up" with me each year! I hope you've had a wonderful day!
    Secondly, Bailey is adorable, smart, spoiled (that goes without saying) and takes after Kelly with the early walking. Both are amazing athletes! Isn't Bailey just the best birthday present ever!!

  6. Thanks, Linda! Can you believe we're_____years old???? Age is an attitude...and I THINK I'm only 40.

    Bailey is the best present. She is adored and, yes, she's much like Kelly. I remember Paul asking me if Kelly EVER walked. She didn't and neither does Bailey. Running is her game!

    Happy late birthday to you. I always think of you on your birthday, but getting a card in the mail is beyond my capacity. I've learned recently that I'm not a multi-tasker. I envy your energy and your abiltiy to do so many things so well. How do you do it?