– Martha Mythlo
I began working at the Telfair as a volunteer for the Toddler Third Thursday program. During one session, I assisted while the toddlers painted on wall-mounted sheets of paper nearly as large as themselves. They used wide brushes, dipping them into palettes of paint placed beside them on the floor. In no time the class was completely absorbed in the magic of creating big arcs of color, and I could relax a little and take in the scene with satisfaction. That was when one of the youngest caught my eye as she teetered unsteadily for a moment and accidentally back one little foot into her palette of red paint. She wobbled an instant more, then regained her balance by placing the other foot squarely into another palette of yellow paint. Steadier now, and unaware of the pools of paint she stood in, she stepped confidently forward and began making her way across the studio, thickly printing a trail of multi-colored footsteps. I had already begun zigzagging around parents and tables to intercept her, and catching her around the waist, lifted and held her at arm’s length. She giggled and squirmed, swinging her paint-soaked shoes toward me while I held her high and tried to dodge the dripping paint, swaying and laughing as we shared a crazy little studio dance for two.
We do a lot of crazy little studio dances around here. It is a part of the “wild card” aspect of working with children. As our education department develops new activities, we strive to create engaging, instructive experiences for our young audiences. Then we try to anticipate what the children will actually do. We are always in for a few surprises. As we implement new programming, we test, observe, rethink, adjust, and continually update our content and techniques. Like any decent dance partner, we are attentive and responsive, even as we lead. And like the best dance partners, we measure our success by how much fun we have together.