Thursday, August 6, 2009

Kinder Gym – Who’s Doing the Learning?


A couple of weeks ago we went to our first out of the house play date. Finally. It was also the first day of kinder gym class with one of the kids. Admittedly, I’m a homebody, and the first year I was super paranoid about my kids getting sick. So we stayed in a lot. That made this week quite the whirlwind. I expected to be busy packing the kids in and out of the car. I expected to have fun being social with other parents. I even expected my kids to be cranky in new settings, though surprisingly, they weren’t.

What I didn’t expect, was that kinder gym class was such a busy place! Kids and parents were crawling all over the place, up and down equipment, making ribbon sticks to wave during song time, and occasionally listening to the teacher. I broke a sweat chasing him around. But did I chase him onto and off of the climbing apparatus? No. All over the mats? No. My kid is obsessed with doors. If there is one open, he must shut it. If it is shut, he must attempt to open it. Rather than climbing on the equipment, he went to every door in the room, pushed, pulled and knocked (in case anyone was going to open it from the other side). Once he was satisfied, he stood in front of each one, waved and said, “Bub-bye”.

My son was easily the youngest one there, and I was a little worried about that. But my normally shy kid who clings to me in his own home, decided he was going to be the circle time entertainment. Bounding out of my lap, he charged into the middle of the circle time, waving, laughing and giggling at the group of thirty plus people. And though he never puts toys or anything in his mouth at home (his sister eats enough books for all of us), he chose that hour to sample the fine taste of purple and brown crayons. Mmm.

It was a rapid paced hour for me, following him all over the room. He wanted to be picked up, but I realized if I kept doing that, he would never learn to play. Once he (finally) began to play, another kid decided mine was the one he HAD to hug. Over and over again. My son didn’t want that so much, preferring instead to wave up at another little boy’s tall, blond, Russian model looking mother. Several times during the hour.

The second week was better in terms of my son playing on the equipment. Until he went head first off the side of the trampoline. My heart skipped beats and jumped into my throat as he suddenly ran across the trampoline and I rushed the two steps needed to get to the short side. But it was too late. Down he went, fortunately landing on the padding and only a little startled. I started to wonder if this was indeed the right class for him when the teacher casually said, “Huh, that is usually so safe. I’ve never seen anyone fall off”. I was shocked that she would not immediately ask if he was ok. I would never turn over responsibility of my child to someone else, but this class is pretty big, and though although there are parents everywhere, the teacher is the only official supervision. I suppose I have much to learn about these classes. But why aren’t there assistants? At one and a half, is my son actually too young?

So let’s recap. I had hoped and expected my kid to like climbing, playing and singing with other kids. Instead, he likes doors, entertaining, and older, tall, blond Russian women. I can only wonder what next week’s class will teach me . . .

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