As soon as Asher could crawl, he found my magazine basket; he would make a beeline for it every chance he got. Those crinkly pages were just too tempting to a little one with new found freedom. And there I was, chasing him away from the basket and trying to guard the pages of my precious Family Fun magazines before all of those fabulous ideas were ruined by the human paper shredder.
Shortly after that, I took our daily stroll to the mailbox. I'm sure you know where this is going...I found junk mail. Imagine that. A lightbulb went off in my head on our walk back to the house. I immediately sat him on the floor and let him destroy the magazine.
Now, I must confess, I had an inner conflict a few moments before I heard the first rrrrrriiiiip. I argued with myself over whether or not this would be encouraging him to tear paper again. I finally settled on the thought that maybe if he had a chance to explore a junk magazine from the recycle pile, my magazine basket wouldn't be as tempting. I saw no harm in handing him the daily junk mail to explore and destroy before it heads to the recycling pile...to ultimately be destroyed. He's just helping to jumpstart the recycling process, right? Asher has been a stubborn little guy from the beginning and I have already learned that if he wants something, he will most certainly find a way to get it. I also knew that there was really no harm in tearing paper. Sure, I'll have to pick up the mess, but it's better than some of his other antics. Instead of spending my energy chasing him out of things, why not set him up with a basket that he can access to safely explore things?
Guess what? He loved it and cackled with joy the entire time. Best decision ever. I'd be lying if I told you this has kept him out of my magazine basket for good, but it has helped lower the amount of energy I have to spend redirecting him.
Tearing paper is a fun thing for little ones because it is usually off limits. Think about it, tearing the pages in a book is a "no-no" and if it is a borrowed book from the library it is an offense punishable by fine. Needless to say, books are guarded. But what if we actually say yes? What if we actually saw tearing paper for what it really is?
Tearing paper is the gateway for lots of other skills...
- Opening bags of shredded cheese
- Shredding lettuce for salads
- Tearing bread to throw to the ducks at the pond
Oh, friends, I could go on and on and on...
Pretend you are tearing a piece of paper. Seriously, I'll wait. Uh huh, I see you rolling your eyes. Just pretend with me. I'm still waiting...Did you feel that?!? Your "pointer" finger and your thumb naturally pinch together. When I tear a piece of paper, my fingers naturally fall into my "pencil grip". (And for the record, yes, I'm sitting at Panera pretending to tear paper as I write this post.) Friends, tearing paper is a precursor to writing!
Tearing paper isn't just for babies. I set Jonah up with crafts that require him to tear paper, too. Just today we made a bird's nest by tearing brown paper and gluing it down in a nest shape. Setting kids up with a craft that requires tearing is a pretty sneaky way to work on fine motor skills if you ask me.
Now, go...give your kids some paper.
Disclaimer: I am in no way responsible for what paper gets torn in your home. If you hand them a bill to destroy, don't come knocking on my door. 🙂