Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sometimes Teachers Just Need To Stand Back

I'm having a great time in the twenty-one day comment challenge at Mother Reader, but my reader is filling up.  Check it out here.


The Slice of Life posts are hosted every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers

          Ingrid, my two and one-half year old granddaughter, spent the weekend with us.  She is a delightfully energetic young child, always going, going, and rarely serene like her new baby sister.  Here is part of our trip to the school playground right by the park behind our house. 

The apparatus is one of those tinker toy-like structures, lots of climbing in various ways and one can climb back down, or slide down on one of six slides.  Ingrid has gained much self-confidence from attending pre-school since September.  This time, she was ready to try most everything except those climbing parts that simply were too high for her.  Remember this is the playground for elementary students.  I watched and reveled in her curiosity.  She went down the slides on her backside, frontside, and head forward, and climbed up them.  This might be because she knows that there are rules about slides and she, with her grandma’s approval, was allowed to try all those forbidden ways this time.  She is in the ‘no’ and ‘why’ stages all the time now.  She also climbed some of the way up on two of the climbing towers that seemed to fit her small hands.

            What struck me as I observed is that I walked around with her, would say things like ‘that bridge bounces if you jump on it’ and Ingrid would eventually get to the bridge, jump joyously shouting ‘bounce, bounce, bounce’.  Then she would look at me and just smile and smile.  She also explored the pea gravel that covers much of this part of the playground.  She picked it up and let it fall through her fingers, she threw it up the slides so it would rattle as it came down, and then she made a big discovery. 


“Grandma, why are the rocks up here?” She meant on the metal mesh floors of the play space.
I said, “Maybe the kids brought it up here on their shoes.” 
She said, “I want to bring it up, too.”  And so she did, but it all didn’t stay, and she noticed that some fell through the little holes.  She sat down and examined the rocks that were still there, went back down and grabbed two more handfuls.  She dropped the rocks, watched some go through and some stay.  She repeated this more than one time. 
I asked, “Ingrid, what are you doing?” 

Her answer: “I’m looking at the rocks that fall through the holes.”  Back down for more.  She sat down and looked and looked, and that is when I took the photo.  She looked up and said, “I need more big rocks.”  She proceeded to go back down, carefully chose a few bigger pieces of pea gravel, and brought them up to drop and see that they did NOT fall through. 
       This learning by doing is such a big deal.  The teacher in me that stood back and watched with just a bit of questioning was having a good time accepting the learning and applying this to my own teaching.  Sometimes, at all ages, it’s better to stay out of the way and let the learning happen.

19 comments:

  1. That is the good stuff! Perfect reminder for all of us-- parents, grandparents, and teachers alike.

    Ingrid is adorable-- love her outfit. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. So true, Linda. Most children have that natural curiosity (scientist brain?) and sometimes we're just better teachers for letting them free to experience and test and draw conclusions on their own. Ingrid sounds like such a joy to spend time with. I hope I get the chance one day to 'grandmother' a child like her.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is why I love preschool! I dream of a day when kids don't have to give up this learning by doing approach as they get older.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, I love watching their play. They really are awesome scientists when they're doing that.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a beautiful post. I love this discovery learning--it's the best kind.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Don't grandchildren teach us the most? I keep wondering if parenting is so fast that we don't notice all the wonders of childhood and growing up. Or maybe being "more mature" allows us to see children and their actions differently. Whatever it is, being a grandparent has taught me SO MUCH about being a teacher and a person. I loved your post and the details of it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. We learn so much by observing children -- I enjoyed this post and hearing about Ingrid's natural curiosity, adventurous spirit and unfettered problem solving abilities. Thanks for this dose of joy and innocence :).

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a fun day for Ingrid, but more fun for grandma as the observer. I love watching a child discover and this sounds like it was the perfect day for discovering.

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a great reminder of how teachers should help/guide learners as they make discoveries! Thanks for sharing this fun description of natural curiosity!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Your pictures are charming. I love her learning and your observing. Wonderful post.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love the reminders you find for us as teachers in your reflections about your grandparents. In addition to the teaching lessons to be learned, your posts also serve as a great reminder to me that each and every one of my students belongs to a group of people who love him or her. It is really an honor to get to be part of the circle of people who care for a child.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love the reminder to slow down and observe what kids can tell us. Perfect!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Such a sweet time, captured so well. I could just picture this!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have been having a hard time tonight commenting with one of my many accounts. I keep losing my comment. But I keep trying and for you I will try more.

    I am with you Linda. What a great opportunity to learn from a child you are so joined to. I have Tuvia's grandchildren to watch and play with,
    Bonnie

    ReplyDelete
  15. She's so cute. Don't you just love how inquisitive kids are? Ages 2 and 3 are my favorite. They explore everything.

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a lucky little girl to have unconditional love and support. You are giving her and your other students a foundation that few experience. The freedom to learn, make mistakes and shine as who they are. I know I have benefitted from you gentle encouragement. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love this post--my favorite times are spent with the grandkids doing exactly what you did...just watch them discover and learn. They often don't get that time to explore--maybe that's what grandparents are for---to give them that time.

    ReplyDelete
  18. It must be very very cold where you are right now for little Ingrid to be bundled up this way - and yes I agree with the comments shared above, she is one stylish little tyke.

    Over and above the learning journeys that both you and Ingrid shared from this day at the park - I was struck by the bond that both of you shared and these priceless treasured moments that you and your granddaughter share. I didn't have that kind of experience with any of my grandparents (both sides) - and I could sense that this is probably the reason why I have a special affinity with fairly-seasoned (hehehe) individuals and why I so enjoy having lovely and long conversations with them. These are truly joyful moments, and thank you for sharing it with us.

    ReplyDelete

Having a conversation is a good thing!