Romp n’ Roll Continues Celebrating with Work Together Wednesday!

Romp n' Roll kids work together!This week Romp n’ Roll is celebrating the Week of the Young Child which is a national, an annual celebration hosted by the
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) celebrating early learning, young children, their teachers and families. Today is Work Together Wednesday! Helen Keller is credited for saying “Alone we can do so little;
together we can do so much.” What a great lesson to learn as a child and teamwork is an ongoing skill set that is even more important to remember as an adult! Romp n' Roll kids work together Read more

Welcome to the Neighborhood

I know it is annoying to hear old folks like me reminisce about “the good old days.”  And I will admit that there are many things in the modern world that definitely constitute a substantial improvement over what was available in previous times.  But I must insist that there are other things that were very valuable and have regrettably slipped away as we have moved forward.

One of those things is the neighborhood.  I recall going out to play in front and back yards, vacant lots, or even safe streets with a familiar group of kids.  We formed immensely enjoyable friendships and engaged in a wide variety of exciting games and activities that allowed us to actively exercise our imagination and creativity as well as to eagerly attempt, practice, and perfect new physical, intellectual, and interpersonal skills. Read more

The Developmental Sequence of Play

"Develop the Social" at Romp n' RollFor many mothers and fathers the “socialization” of their child is a top priority.  While they certainly hope their little one will do well academically when she reaches school, they also are concerned about her ability to play well with others.  However, in order to effectively nurture social skills, it is important to recognize that a child’s interest in playing with peers and her ability to do so do not emerge completely and instantaneously.

For the first year-and-a-half or so, infants usually show relatively little interest in interacting with other infants.  While they enjoy observing each other, most of their social-emotional energy is directed toward the adults in their lives.  As they approach and pass the second birthday, toddlers become inclined to engage in what is referred to as “parallel play.”  They clearly enjoy playing alongside other toddlers, doing similar things with similar materials, but they still are not really interested in truly interactive activities.

As they move toward the third birthday, this parallel play evolves into “associative play.”  The side-by-side play now involves some genuine yet rather superficial interaction consisting of the exchange of comments and the sharing of materials.  It typically is not until they approach and pass the third birthday that children will engage in “cooperative play” in which each child takes a distinct role that is coordinated and integrated with the roles taken by other children.  This can be something as simple as playing on a see-saw or as complicated as acting out a scene from “Pirates of the Caribbean” in which one kid is a pirate, another kid is a soldier, another kid is a prisoner, etc.

Furthermore, this sequence is one of “addition” not “exclusivity.”  In other words, just because a child is participating in cooperative play does not mean she will never again participate in associative, parallel, or solitary play.  She merely becomes more interested in and capable of the more sophisticated forms of play as she develops.

This is why Romp n’ Roll classes feature a lot of parent participation for younger children, gradually involve increasing emphasis on interaction with peers as the children get older, and always include ample opportunities for both independent and group activities.  By recognizing and respecting the developmental sequence of play, Romp n’ Roll classes ensure that the socialization process will be as pleasant and productive as possible.

Preschool Friendships

Friends at Romp n' RollFor most of us, “friendship” is an extraordinarily important concept.  As someone once jokingly told me, “Your friends are God’s way of apologizing for your family.”  Whether you view it that way or not, the fact is that we value and cherish our friends enormously.  Consequently, we want our children to have good friends and to be good friends.

Unfortunately, when watching your preschooler interact with his peers, you may quickly become alarmed.  While young children do comprehend the concept of friendship and treat their friends differently from other children, their understanding and appreciation of friendship is very superficial at this point in development.

First, their friendships tend to be temporary.  They change their friends more often than they change their socks.  Furthermore, their friendships tend to be based on rather materialistic considerations.  They are more concerned about other children’s possessions than their personalities.  So, if you ask a preschooler who his best friend is, he will respond, “Tommy.”  If you ask why Tommy is his best friend, he will respond, “Because Tommy has great toys.”  The next day if you ask him who his best friend is, he may respond, “Billy.”  If you ask him why Billy is now his best friend, he may respond, “Because Billy has better toys than Tommy.”

Finally, the friendships of preschoolers are strictly equitable or “tit for tat.”  You will often hear them say to each other, “I’ll let you play with my toys if you let me play with yours,” or “If you invite me to your birthday party, I’ll invite you to mine.”  Any violation of the agreement or any perceived imbalance in the exchange, and the friendship is over.

Mothers and fathers may find these attitudes and behaviors frustrating and even frightening.  But rest assured things will improve as the children develop.  It really isn’t until adolescence that friendships become what we think of when we consider friendship.  Even if we knew someone from our preschool days, it probably wasn’t until the teen years that the friendship blossomed into the deep and meaningful relationship we valued so much and recall so fondly.

So relax.  As your child socializes with other children in his Romp n’ Roll classes, he is enjoying the kind of peer interactions that are appealing to him and appropriate for him at this stage of development, and he is having exactly the kind of experiences that allow him to explore and experiment with the idea of friendship and thus build solid foundations for the more complex and meaningful relationships he will enjoy in the future.