So, you have reached the bottom of the first big drop. You may feel exhilarated, exhausted and excited all at the same time. Before you even have time to catch your breath or anticipate the next part of the ride, you are thrust into the loopy-de-loops that add the next excitement. It’s may get intense again, but you can enter it though on the high of “surviving” and maybe at one tiny point enjoying the first thrill of the ride.
As your child has emerged from the first half of the first Plane of Development where he is moving toward physical and biological independence, he has made it known that he wants to do it himself. Although he may say he wants to do all things himself, he still may have been developmentally unable to complete some of those tasks. In this next phase, more independence is sought and encouraged and even taken to the next level. Just like the toddler classroom, the primary classroom is designed with this need and goal of independence at the forefront.
The children are held responsible for all of their belongings in their cubbies and files. He is responsible for getting his sheet on his mat, taking care of his lunch in the fridge and cubbie, putting finished papers in his file, serving himself snack (and cleaning it up), taking care of the environment through cleaning up spills or messes.
Those tasks listed above are a small part of the independence that is encourage, another large part comes from the design of the works presented to him. Most of the works are self-correcting. Essentially, the works can be done correctly only one way and it is obvious to the child when it is done the right way. This self-correction allows the child the opportunity to work and learn without a teacher’s presence. The teacher is just an extension of the environment and not the sole focus of the passing of knowledge. We would rather the child discover learning on his own to give him that large sense of autonomy and independence. We also encourage independence through the answering of questions. If a child is trying to figure out how to spell a word, or what something looks like, or how to write a number….we guide him towards materials in the classroom to find the answer on his own.
This leads to a gray area of the child asking for help with a task. I look at each individual situation when offering help. If a child approaches a task with “I can’t do this,” my first suggestion is usually “please try first and I will come help you if needed.” I observe how the child is approaching and then evaluate: 1) does he need a lesson…a lesson can be given on blowing noses, using a dust pan, any task 2) is this something he has done before 3) is he being lazy 4) it is difficult, and he really needs my help. Then I offer the appropriate level of help. It may be talking the child through what he thinks he needs to do next, offering suggestions, giving a lesson, or physically showing the child how to do it. I find it beneficially for the child to “struggle” a little bit with problems. This builds their resolve, problem solving skills, self-confidence. The joy on their faces when they realize they have done it themselves is priceless!
Once your stomach has dropped with the big hill and your head is rattling from the multiple loops of this adventure, you can stagger away to catch your breath. Next, tune in to more safety devices to make you feel secure as you try to enjoy this ride.