Ask A Child

Ask A Child

This article was excerpted from the weekly message sent to the parents of the school.

As I walk through the hallways of our preschool and peek into the classrooms I am always amazed by the sense of confidence that our children seem to have. Their art and writing impresses me as I see such individuality in the work. Indeed, our school's mission is to create an environment that strengthens children's sense of self, their sense of confidence. Our educational philosophy is premised upon the idea that children will succeed cognitively when their emotional foundation is solid.

How can we build self confidence in a child? One way is by seeing children as competent. And letting them know that we see them that way.

A mother presented me with this situation: Every morning, her three young children (ages 1, 3 and 5) rush to cuddle near her in bed. Sounds sweet. Except there are three children and mom has only two sides. Mom was curious how to approach this situation. She wanted to offer a solution to her children, but she wasn't sure herself as to what to say.

Here's an easy and effective idea: Ask the child to come up with a solution!

All too often adults are quick to offer solutions. Solutions that - given the chance - our children have the capacity to come up with on their own. And their solutions are often more creative than we adults may have come up with!

All too often society underestimates the capabilities of children and assumes that the child does not have problem-solving skills, indirectly sending a message to the child that they need an 'outside source' to solve their problems.

Here's how mom can respond to the children, "I love snuggling with you. But there are two sides near mommy. One, two. (Concretize this 'spatial reality' by pointing and counting.) And there are three children. One, two, three. What do you think we should do about it?"

Quite frankly, had I been the one to suggest the solution, I would have simply offered that the children take turns. Such a practical, adult solution! The 5-year old child, however, offered this creative idea, "Maybe, every morning, we should see who is sad or scared or needs mommy most. Like maybe they had a nightmare. And then we decide like that."

Wow!

By allowing this child the opportunity to come up with her own solution and to practice problem-solving skills, it also showed mommy that this 5-year old child has a sense of empathy, an ability to put her sibling's needs above her own. Empathy is not an easy skill, and - like every other skill - takes practice to perfect. Imagine, by offering an adult solution, as opposed to opening it up to the child, this child would not have had the opportunity to practice these social-emotional skills!

Learning is a gift. And it can only be accomplished first-hand. No one can learn for us. So, let's allow the learner (the child) to carry the beautiful weight of a learning experience. Let's put the 'burden' of learning on the learner's lap.


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