JULY 15, 1942
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—At Vassar College, yesterday morning, it was most interesting to have a glimpse of the large group of children who, with their parents, attend the three weeks session of the Vassar Summer Institute for Family and Child Care Services in Wartime. The children were at lunch when the morning meeting closed and we went off to see each group—the two, three and four year olds, and two older groups up to the age of twelve.
One very small boy was placed in the corner of the room because, up to this time, he had always been in a high chair. Having walls on either side gave him a greater sense of security. The most amusing thing to watch is the ease with which children learn from each other.
It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If older children only realized this, they would be in a state of constant pride over the influence which they exert on the smaller ones around them. The more mature person is, of course, the one who serves as a pattern. If the pattern is good, the imitation is helpful.
To me, one of the most interesting things was the toy room, where the children go to choose the toy with which they wish to play. These toys are designed to help families provide a child with entertainment and instruction at low cost.
One of the most ingenious toys was a board into which were screwed some large hooks with a rope tied at one end of the board. A little child could learn coordination threading the rope through the hooks, and at the same time have infinite entertainment with the variety of patterns. There was no toy which could not be made at home of some perfectly ordinary material which would be available in almost any house.
We have had so many guests these last few days that I have not had much time with the children. However, we all swim together and I am astonished at the way in which the girls are improving in their diving. There are certainly great advantages in being young, for what takes me months to learn, they do in a few days with apparent ease.
The news from the Russian front gives one a picture of such great heroism in defense and such reckless onslaughts in offense that one cannot help wondering what the loss of life must be and grieving over the horrible waste of young blood.
In Egypt, for the moment, things seem to be fairly quiet; and yet planes are attacking, guns are shelling positions and men are dying. It seems hard to believe when one spends a few days in a quiet countryside in the United States that we are lucky enough to be far removed from the horrors of the actual front.