Building jam towers in Venice

One of the comments made by my friends before embarking on this two month tour of Italy with two toddlers was ‘but what about all their toys!’ And I must admit, I was a little reluctant to leave the jigsaws my daughter had really got into and some of the developmental toys my 18-month-old was just ready for (and may well be past on our return). One of the items I was reluctant to leave behind was the building blocks that my baby was beginning to enjoy. I needn’t have worried. Everywhere we have been so far my baby has found something to build a tower with: little pots of jam at the breakfast table, bottles of shampoo in our room, tumblers (yes, glass ones, we didn’t let that go on for too long!).
Before I came away I had spoken to a few people about the benefits of ‘unschooling’ – letting children simply learn by being in the world – and I’m discovering that the child’s drive to learn is a strong one. Today, in the grounds of the Italian villa Ca Marcello our gentle host explained to my daughter that the four statues standing guard over the entrances were actually representative of the four seasons. She was fascinated and jumped up and down saying ‘let me say, let me say’ so she could tell him that the lady with the scythe was summer. I don’t think she is missing out by having to turn down the nursery place she was offered in January …

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