Thursday, August 18, 2011

Moments of Learning

Many years ago, my artsy friend Val taught me an extraordinary lesson about childhood.

I was leading young moms in a discussion in Val's charming (and child-proofed) family room. Our topic was how a child's confidence, or lack of it, develops between the ages of one and two years. Surprising as it sounds, that is the major developmental task of a one-year-old. A little one's confidence is either built up by loving approval of her impulsive moments of learning, or torn down by endless no-nos and corrections. It is confidence to explore with all her senses that brings explosive new learning into a child's brain.

Val nodded. She stood and reached for a lovely "objet d'art" looking down on us from a shelf above her head. Val placed the ballerina, dressed in gorgeous hues of gold, on her coffee table. Then she called her two toddlers to come and touch! The children's fingers wandered like shy sand crabs over the delicate dancer while Val explained the words "smooth" and "glassy" and "fragile." Satisfied, the girls watched Val return the treasure to a waiting shelf.

"One day, when my children's hands and feet are steadier, I'll put the dancer on the coffee table to stay," Val explained. "The girls will know a friend is joining their play and they'll watch over her. But for now, I'm teaching them to notice and respect beautiful things, like my artist mother taught me. I'm confident (she smiled at her use of the word) that, like me, the children's love of beauty will bring joy to their lives."

In that moment, I was the learner. Val taught me, just as you will teach your children. Don't wait for elusive hours of time that never come. It is in moments – in clumsy, curious moments of discovery – that children gain confidence to be a learner. A vital part of that learning is to "notice and respect beautiful things." Perhaps that is what God intended when He colored His majestic world.

A Colorful Thought: Color your child's confidence with the crayon of approval that lasts a lifetime.


  1. WOW , you taught us to much, that I never knew it was possible that I "struggling mom" could have taught you !

    I only knew that I was allowed to explore pretties as a child when my aunt told me about it. However, even though I did not remember it, I know it influenced my artist brain and caused me to do likewise with my girls ! Now I can move on the the grandkids :)

  2. I always allowed our kids to touch. We never child-proofed our home and I rarely had to be concerned about either of them breaking something when we went to someone else's home. The reason? When we would go into a store of delicate items and I would sense their insatiable desire to touch, I'd let them with ONE finger. I'd show them how to touch with one finger and that seemed to satisfy that intense desire to experience the delicate.

  3. Val, you not only taught me, but all the moms I've taught through the years. Now you're ready for another generation. I still love to "see the beauty!"

    Tonya, I love the one-finger touch! And you are so right that the desire to touch is intense for little ones. I know others are going to learn from your story.