Introducing Story Play at South Shore Conservatory

The scariest thing sometimes as a parent is knowing that an innocent attempt at exposure could turn into a gaffe with dire life-long consequences.  When it comes to the illustrious “Arts”, many well-intending parents and grown ups will over shoot when designing projects and artsy outings that may be developmentally inappropriate and could serve to turn a child off.  I’ll never forget my parents taking me and my three siblings out of our comfy suburban milieu to see a European, “high art” film called Fanny & Alexander in New York City.  Honestly,  it was two plus hours of torture. First, there was the matter of the sub-titles.  Then, there was the pace; the story may have been about children, but they did not seem to be doing anything!   And besides, the kids were weird and I lost interest within the first couple of scenes. While my parents were nobly trying to give us some exposure to “culture”, it felt like a bitter pill to swallow. 

In his book The Disciplined Mind, Howard Gardner speaks of the importance of a successful entry point  to learning.  The way we approach a new topic as parents can either stimulate and inspire or permanently intimidate and revile.   My poor younger sister has confessed to me that she still has a hard time watching movies with sub-titles; I am convinced this is Fanny & Alexander backlash. Here my parents were trying to do something positive, only to have it backfire for over thirty years!

This can happen easily, so much so that we can become paralyzed as parents and leave it all to the “experts”. We don’t want to do or say something that will send our kids into therapy, right?  Right, and while I make no guarantees and certainly do not have all the answers, my new program at South Shore Conservatory called Story Play is designed to give parents some basic understanding of how a true creative process unfolds and how parents can be supportive without wasting time and money on failing entry points to creativity.

We start with stories because stories are what we know.  Nevertheless, I must confess I was a tad overwhelmed with how much I didn’t  know when I was given a mountain of classic children’s literature before my first child was even born.  I was not entirely familiar with all of the titles and had no idea how some would effortlessly become part of our nightly rituals while others needed to be presented at the right age or stage -  or face a cruel destiny wrought with symptoms of permanent stiff spine and consistent coats of dust.  It has since dawned on me that these stories are like learning and development in general: all in good time. 

Each week features a favorite children’s book with artistic, multi-sensory thematic extensions and lots of accessible ideas for creative play at home.  Class time will include structured activities as well as a facilitated time for parents to learn and share with each other.   It’s never too early to garner the tools to nurture your child’s artistic path; plant those creative seeds today!

Story Play for toddlers and preschoolers is offered on Thursdays at the James Library in Norwell at 9:15 and 10:15 and on Wednesdays at 11:00 at our Hingham campus beginning the week of September 18.