In the past, I have found younger children less interesting than the 1st-3rd grade schoolchildren I have also interacted with, because the latter are more cognitively complex, I suppose. This particular daycare has already got the full complement of assistants and practicers in the older children's group, though, so I am with the up-to-age-3 group except 2 hours during their naptime.
But surprisingly, my Finnish is enough better now that I communicate more easily with the small children. Also of course, there is less talking in this group (although there wouldn't be in a similar sample of under 3s from my family so I am always a little shocked by the relative untalkativeness of other young children: however, as always, there are a couple of complete chatterboxes who demand adult attention 100% of the time and more than make up for everyone else's comparative quietude).
The terrible twos are perhaps aptly named - I've witnessed several drawn-out, lying on the floor tantrums for utterly mystifying reasons1 which were quite difficult not to laugh at -, but I actually find the children in that stage more interesting than the ones that are just slightly older than them, because the age group around 3-6 for the most part aren't very interested in adults:
- they are mostly uncurious about the presence of adults around them and the changes in the adult cast
- most of them will accept adult participation in their play if offered but will not request it, but others are too shy to play with adults, even known ones
- for most of them this lack of curiosity extends to obliviousness about being observed by adults and they not only don't notice if you are laughing out loud at them, which is a relief because my baby sister always did at their age, but many of them will say things directly in front of the adults in the room that are supposed to be secret from them ("I took this from the other playroom but don't tell anybody!" "Let's play that we're making food for her but really we put poison in it but don't tell her until after she eats it.")
There are a few unusual children who are equally as interested in interacting with adults - at their age, in demanding the adults play with them, where children of that type a bit younger just want any adult attention whatsoever and a bit older often want to be talked with and listened to instead. So mostly I'm not actually left with NOTHING to do, unless the adult-friendly children are asleep or playing outside, and then I have to make more of an effort to join in other children's play.
A few memorable conversations:
CHILD: I was afraid of it.
ADULT: You don't have to be afraid of shirts!
CHILD: This lion doesn't have the energy to live anymore.
OTHER CHILD: This game is cool!
CHILD (on play phone): What? (gasp) The Groke is going to EAT me?!
SAME CHILD (calmly): What a pity.
CHILD: What do you want?
ME: Can I have anything from the menu?
ME: A shortage, please.
CHILD: If you order that you'll be here all day!
Footnote: enumeration of tantrums:( Read more... )