What if my child does not want to participate in activities like other children, and prefers to wander around instead?
Don't worry, it is okay and normal if your child is not engaged in an activity right away. Based on my experience and observation, there are several reasons how come some children are not as engaged in an activity as others:
As an educator, I believe the best we can do is to encourage a child to participate, if that does not work, then I do not suggest forcing a child to do the activity (art or fitness or listen to a story). A child who is not participating or engaged in an activity like the rest of the group does not mean he or she is not paying attention. While other children are painting or dancing, the child may be observing and /listening and/ exploring the environment. One day out of the blue, your child will surprise you by walking over to the art table, and picking up a paint brush to paint!
New Setting and Making Friends
It is important that your child has a positive experience in class, and wants to return on a regular basis. It is okay if your child wanders the room to explore the environment, especially if there are toys in the room. Children are curious and like to familiarize themselves with their surroundings. When a child feels comfortable in a setting, he /she will gradually participate in an activity or sit with the group. If the child only chooses to sit with the group during snack time, that is a an accomplishment on its own. Snack time is a great way for kids to socialize. If your child meets a friend who loves art, then your child may wish to join art class next time.
TIP: Your child may feel overwhelmed in large groups . If you feel this is the case, I would suggest joining a smaller group or plan a playgroup at the comfort of your own home.
If your child is not engaged in activities like other children. Try doing a puzzle or a quiet activity with your child in the same room until the class transitions to another activity. Mom and Tot offers various activities throughout the hour. Your child will most likely participate in one activity (story time, free play, jungle gym) or be engaged as an observer. Allow your child to explore the environment as long as he/she is not disrupting the group. If your child likes being in the room but not participating yet, this is a good sign.
TIP: If your child prefers to observe from a distance, allow your child to do so without asking or convincing him/her to join the group on the floor. For example, if a group of children is sitting on the floor listening to a story, and your child is standing a few feet away engaged in the story, this means your child is participating.
He/she will join the group on the floor when ready. The educator will know when is a good time to ask your child to take a seat or draw them in closer.
From my experience, some children may show interest in an activity the following season. With time and patience, you will be surprised!