I wouldn’t say that Lakeshore Learning is my favorite store, but it’s definitely in my top 5 (for those of you who have been following this blog, you know my heart belongs to Target). Since leaving the classroom, I don’t often have an excuse/reason for shopping there, but when I do….woohoo! I’m like a kid in a candy store! I’m not going to get into all the reasons I love Lakeshore because I will surely sound like a dork, but trust me, it’s GLORIOUS! And as good fortune would have it, today was my lucky day!
I arrived at Lakeshore this morning just as they were unlocking the doors. I had a stack of amazing board games to laminate which were created by our fantastically creative and brilliant early childhood team on The Sanford Harmony Program (was that shameless plug over the top? Be sure to like us on Facebook ). As the laminating machine warmed up, I had a chance to walk the isles and let my mind wander, thinking of all the great projects and messes my kids and I could make at home. Inspired and excited by the ideas sparked by perusing the store, I headed to the back to tend to the task that brought me there in the first place.
50 yards into my laminating*, another shopper stopped to ask me about the classroom alphabet charts she was looking at. I knew she thought I worked there, but I was happy to answer her questions – I like talking about phonemic awareness. When we met again at the register she was a little embarrassed, but we got to chatting anyway. I saw that she had all sorts of classroom supplies – place value chart, number line, alphabet train, and a slew of “learning to read” paraphernalia. I knew she was shopping for her daughter, and I asked if it was for her child’s classroom. She told me, “No, I wanted some stuff to have up at home. We’re at Suchandsuch School, and I just want to make sure I keep on top of things. She’s learning SO much!” “Oh, is she in second grade?” I asked. “No. Kindergarten.” I realized at that moment that Lakeshore Learning was not GLORIOUS for this mom, it was anxiety producing.
I recently read a fantastic blog entitled, “What Should a 4 Year Old Know?” on the website A Magical Childhood. In this post the author writes about the pressures we put on our kids to get ahead. I just loved the way she brought the focus back to the importance of play and real world experiences in learning and the reality that kids develop and learn at various paces. When it comes to learning, the first one there isn’t the “winner.” I loved her encouraging words to parents to allow kids to be kids and to see the value in that. As pointed out in the article, “We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.”
If you haven’t had a chance to read this blog I highly recommend it (you can follow the link I provided above). I hope you like it as much as I did, and I’d love for you to come on back here and tell me what you thought.
*Obviously I’m being sarcastic….that would be ridiculous. And I know it takes about 300 years for that stuff to biodegrade, so it’s a good thing these board games are so amazing that we’ll want to play them for 300 years!