Tag Archives: kim atkinson

An Ode to Tape

The feeling of tape against skin is compelling, curious and addictive. Tape wound on fingers, tape over mouth, tape stuck in hair, tape on a t-shirt.  And in the process there will be tape against tape, an ungainly mess. But an interesting ungainly mess.

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Tape can hold anything together

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Tape a straw to a box and voila!

You can drink from it.

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Tape can be control panels for trips to Mars.

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It can hold a house together.

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Tape can be a building tool.

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Tape can be aerial insect pathways.

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Tape can hold everything together. Tape might be the thing needed to keep your life together.

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Tape can be life.

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You’re Too Young to Paint!

“Ohhh no! Come with me, you’re too young to paint! ” A toddler who has been dabbling his fingers in paint is whisked up and away by a parent and plopped down beside some cars.

Parents, grandparents and caregivers routinely move small children away from paint in this drop-in program. Whether it is paint on the table with brushes, paint on the floor or paint at the easel, all are out of bounds for some toddlers. The facilitator of this program would love to have toddlers paint, and has never imposed restrictions about an  appropriate age to paint. In fact there are photos around the room of children, small and big, with paint on their hands, faces and arms. Mess is acceptable here, there is a sink nearby, smocks are available. So why does there seem to be a ‘rule’ about the ‘right ‘ age to paint?

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 Do we think a toddler is going to go wild? Throw paint at the ceiling? Toss a brush at a bystander? Pour it on someone’s head?

 Do we think that because a toddler isn’t making marks on paper that are representational they are

therefore unable to use paint ‘properly’?

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Does making marks with hands or fingers, or pushing the brush around in circles not count as painting?

What role do clothes play? Has keeping clothing clean become a value of childhood?

 Do we think toddlers are not capable of experimenting with texture, colour, brush, paper?

 Do we think toddlers are too young to make their own choices about what materials they would like to explore?

Are toddlers simply not trustworthy?

 Is there too much unpredictability giving paint to a toddler? Does it mean we will lose control?

 When is the right age to paint? Would we ever tell someone they were too old to paint?

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 What are we afraid of?

I Challenge You

DSCF2962 copyI am hereby issuing a challenge.

To all of you who work with young children I challenge you to pick a rule and get rid of it. Give it up. Just stop enforcing it. And see what happens.

Maybe it’s the ‘no guns’ rule, maybe it’s the ‘no toys from home’ rule, maybe it’s the ‘keep the playdough on the table’ rule….doesn’t matter, just give up on a rule.

I understand there are reasons to keep those rules, co-workers will be upset, what will parents think? and licensing!?! Be brave and do it anyway. I bet there is a rule that you know in your heart doesn’t belong.

Give some time to not having the rule. Let everyone live with it, settle into it for a bit. Yes it might feel a bit scary, letting go of control always does. Embrace the uncertainty.

Here’s a story to think about: my colleague Rhoda recently read my post  Running and decided to try it…she would stop saying “no running’ and just see what happened. And what happened? Nothing. Well, not exactly nothing, but nothing that she expected. No one crashed, no one got hurt, chaos did not erupt. And the biggest thing that did not happen? She did not nag. Rhoda didn’t have to continually say ‘walking feet’ ‘ no running’ ‘Remember… NO RUNNING!’  She was so delighted not to nag, and so delighted with how the children managed to keep themselves safe without the nagging. Rhoda said she was able to spend more time engaging with what children were doing, a direct result of taking away one rule.

I challenge you.


The Clay House

IMG_2236A grandfather sits on a child’s chair, his legs straddled comfortably so he can reach the child size table. He is working with the clay on the table, rolling it, patting and shaping it. He builds a small slab structure, makes a roof, adds details, texture. His grand daughter sits beside him working on her own clay creation. Mostly they are silent, but now and then they share a joke and a smile.

Every day this older gentleman comes to this drop in program. Every day he brings his two grandchildren, sits with them, talks with them, watches them. Occasionally he finds someone who speaks Cantonese who he can chat with, but mostly he remains silent, smiling.

His grandson, perhaps 18 months old, grins as he pushes a small chair around the room. The grandfather keeps an eye on him, but so do the others in the room. A mom offers a steadying hand when the chair begins to tip. The grandfather, still immersed in his clay building doesn’t notice.

The clay house is finished, and the grandfather places it in the centre of the table. I gesture with my camera, a photo? He nods, and I snap a couple of shots. I show him the photos on my camera and we both laugh with pleasure. Later a boy takes up a spray bottle and gently sprays the clay house, watching closely as the mist envelopes the house, making the clay glisten.

No words are spoken in any of these moments, they were unnecessary. The clay, camera, water, adults and children all came together, encountered one another, and spoke in many ways. Just not verbal ways.


Kid Solutions

IMG_5268 copyThree boys are playing soccer. There are rules, but I can’t quite follow them. Three hoops on the grass serve as goals, and so does the fence. It seems one must run to the fence, and then to the hoops…..but I might have it all wrong. Teams are nebulous, fluid, as is the score.

Eventually two of the boys are wrestling in the grass. One is on top of the other and shouts to the third “I’ve got him! Score now!”

But quickly there are tears, one of the wrestlers is hurt. Whether it is hurt pride, hurt feelings, or physical hurt isn’t clear. A teacher responds, asking one of the wrestlers what can be done to make the hurt wrestler feel better. The wrestler thinks for a bit and says “I could tell him a joke?!”

Which he does. The hurt wrester immediately feels better, and the soccer game continues.

 Kid solutions are sometimes so much better than adult solutions.