As a grandmother encourages her grandson

by Brigitte von Bergen

Recently I met my neighbour and we had a chat. She had a big basket bag in her hand with many boxes and boxes of different products. When I asked her if she was about to go to the disposal, she replied: “No, I’m going to my grandson Jens, he’s waiting for me, we always play with little objects from everyday life that I bring; this time I’m bringing him these little boxes.” Every Saturday afternoon she visits her grandson, he is just about two years old. She looks after him so that her daughter can do the bigger shopping with her husband. Her unexpected answer aroused my interest. I had also noticed the woman before because of her naturalness and her approachability. I found out more during further encounters. She told me so vividly that I would like to reproduce it.
  This grandmother is a very sensitive, self-contained personality and is happy to spend time with her grandson. She thinks about what she can play with him. He is happy: Grandma comes with a big bag; he is curious to see what is in the bag this time. He is allowed to look inside and sees many small boxes. Together they look at the different empty boxes: the colourful patterned ones, the long, narrow and rectangular ones, e.g., of a face cream. They take each box in their hands, look at it, feel the edges, touch the corners and open them. That’s how he gets to know the different shapes. You can put something in there! Jens looks in the toy box and finds different things, blocks, balls and much more. They try out together what fits into a small box. The balls fit in one box, the blocks fit better in a bigger one and so on. Each filled box is closed with the lid.
  Grandma only helps him fill the boxes when it is necessary. The grandmother always says what they are doing, so he hears the words while they are doing it. This is how Jens begins to hear and slowly understand concepts. In this playful process, two-year-old Jens practices many fine motor skills with his little hands. He also develops a feeling for how different things feel and that some boxes are lighter and others heavier. This shared experience gives the child security, and both grandma and Jens enjoy it.
  After some time, the game is finished and the little boxes are emptied and everything is put back in its place. Now they have time to do something else, play with the ball or go for a walk, have a snack until the parents come back.
  On a next visit, she brings other little boxes, then they look at the colours. Jens points to a colour and hears the name, he points to the red colour and grandma says “red”; the game continues, they look for other colours that can be seen on the boxes. In this back and forth with grandma, the little boy trains all his senses.
  Jens learns ideas about how to play with objects from everyday life instead of plastic toys or electronic devices.
  Another time in hot weather, they play with a basin full of water. They look for a cup and ladle from the big basin into a small spray can. This is fun and splashes too, which is lovely in the warm sun. As they do this, they count how many times they scoop until the small spray can is full. He learns and practices fine motor skills such as grasping, grasping sequences, logical thinking, trains his senses such as observing and much more in the quiet continuous relationship with his grandmother. His abilities are thereby encouraged according to his age.
  Jens experiences early on that his grandmother reliably comes every week and does something with him. His parents as well as his grandmother give Jens this security and commitment, that they enjoy spending time with him and that they help him when he needs it; in the process, a trusting relationship develops.
  Children who experience a secure, stable, binding relationship in their early childhood thus become capable of growing resiliently into life and finding human contact. When the person encounters problems in their adult life, they can also let themselves be helped and get help, they can learn well and also enjoy helping others. • learn well and also enjoy helping others.  •

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