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Creative and Crafty: Discovering How Your Little One Learns

BY TEDDY VATH

I’m sure that we can agree on a lot of truths when it comes to children, and two of those things are that different children develop differently [captain obvious to the rescue!] – and children are each, at the very minimum, surprising. I am a new father of one and it shows. I get worried when my little one shares water from a bottle and drops her teething toys on the freshly cleaned floor. Getting over these things is a process, but what isn’t? Speaking with others helps me realize I am simply a normal parent with a cocktail of rational and irrational fears.

Through my self-inflicted paranoia – I’m still learning to trust the process; always trust the process. I notice my little one’s development on a day to day basis. She’s at the point where she recognizes parts of her body such as hair, ears, and tummy, and she recognizes the world around her. She points to her toes when we sing ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes’ and whoofs like a dog when they pass by our window or hears one barking at a neighbor walking down the street.

How fast she learned some of these things has floored both her mother and me. Not to say she doesn’t seem capable of learning as quickly as she has, but sometimes you can get stuck in a moment as a parent and want to stay there forever—be it their first laugh or their first hug (could that be called “first-itis”)?

As much as I can bask in the reflective glory and attempt to boast about how great of a job her mother and I have done, it is without a doubt my little one’s own victory to claim. She was able to take creative learning materials like the Color Me series of books to bath time and learn how we can change items with our actions. My little one is also someone who loves to take things apart – thankfully those bath time books are durable enough for her hunger of destruction, which I think must be part of the learning process. She takes what she learns from one thing and brings it together with a desire she innately has: her actions bring her to a new perspective on what she took apart rather than simply leaving it in ruins.

Although I previously mentioned those two (obvious) truths separately, I find that they are very much intertwined. My little one’s ability to learn the way she does is strongly affected by the creative material we present to her. In addition to the books we give her, we surround her with music as much as possible. I very much enjoy music, listening and making it, so I will admit this mostly a selfish endeavor. Instruments were always in my home when I was a child, and I want that for her to enjoy as well.

Since I started playing guitar to my little one when she was an infant and later letting her smash keys on our keyboard – she hasn’t quite learned the album ‘Appetite for Destruction’ by Guns ‘n Roses, but she definitely understands the title’s meaning – I am seeing her growing appreciation for music. The greatest example is her love of dancing. Her favorite musical artist right now is Robyn without a doubt. Whenever Robyn isn’t on the speakers, she’ll make her own music with the presets on the keyboard by randomly pressing the keys to change the beat and, you guessed it, dance her butt off.

To say that our little one is the heart of our family is an understatement, and we wouldn’t love her any less than if she didn’t have all these qualities nor developed the way she has. These experiences and sparks of imagination we are striving to provide her give her the chance to make them her own. It’s the provision of those creative materials and tools that will allow her to continue to be a creative learner. I am learning that as a parent the best thing we can do is provide the opportunity for our little ones to enjoy the world around them and equip them with how to find joy in it because it is often the little things in life that inspire us to grow.

Teddy Vath is a dad from St Petersburg, FL, who makes time for family and finds time for everything else. He writes music and perfects his tennis swing when he can, but you will mostly find him spending time with his wife of ten plus years and his daughter.