Friday, January 3, 2014

What's Your Plan?

I encourage young children to ask for what they need.  I encourage independent thinking.

One of the ways that I accomplish that is by asking a simple question when a child asks for what they need:  "What's your plan?"

One of the many times I said it today surrounded this wonderful tale of a child, owning a problem they caused, and independently solving it.  It also involves a child who is very observant and loves to practice what he sees.

The Scene:
 Four children were launching shower puffs with the catapult my co-author so awesomely makes.  (I am trying to find a link to them, but am running into roadblocks...I will post one here as soon as I can!)  Hanging above the launching area are our balloon hammocks (a great storage space for balloons).

The Problem:
Trillian launched a shower puff directly into one of the hammocks.

The Solution:
Get a super long cardboard block and a chair and gently whack it out.


The Tale:
As the title of this blog post implies, when Trillian asked if he could get a chair, I responded with "What's your plan?"

BEEEEEEEEEEEP!  We interrupt this tale for a brief PSA (Public Service Announcement):  Asking children to tell you their plan is an awesome opportunity for them to put into words what their brain is thinking, it causes them to pause, and think.  It is also a great way to increase vocabularies, provide one-on-one time for that child and you, and empowers the child because you care about their plan and it is THERE'S, they OWN it.

And so...the problem solving began.  It looked exactly like this:

See the shower puff innocently trapped waiting to be rescued?  Notice how cautiously Trillian is climbing the chair?   Children NEED opportunities to assess risk, and to use caution. 
It is important to note that Trillian is a wee one.  He is vertically challenged.  I didn't think there was a remote chance that he would be successful, BUT....I wanted him to have an opportunity to FAIL and practice handling failure.  I wanted him to have an opportunity to ASK FOR WHAT HE NEEDS, which I was certain was going to be help.

To my suprise, upon the first "gentle" whack of the harmless block, he made contact with the shower puff and it MOVED!!  Trillian was ELATED!  "I'M DOING IT NITA!" he exclaimed!  He hopped down to regain his balance, and mounted the chair again.

Trillian demonstrated grand balancing skills and had the opportunity to feel both success and failure during his attempt to solve his problem.
The second time he climbed on the chair, he realized the shower puff had moved far enough towards the exit from the hammock, that he could no longer reach it.  He failed.  Without skipping a beat, Trillian hopped down and scooted his chair over, climbed back up, "whack"....and the joy of success was his AGAIN!

This process was continued again and again.  Fail....scoot the chair...success.  Fail....scoot the chair...success.  Until FINALLY.... HE DID IT!

This is the look of a child who just experienced SUCCESS.  He not only experienced it...he OWNED it.  We adults tend to get over protective and step in and "SAVE" children when they are struggling.  It's moments like that when we need to closely observe, offer encouragment...and then BUTT OUT.  Let children struggle.  Let them fail.  Let them OWN their own success!  Had I stepped in and done it for him... I would not have this picture to share, and he would not have felt the joy that accompanies hard-earned success!

Meanwhile all of this was going on, unbeknownst to us, someone was watching...and learning:

Mr. "Monkey-See, Monkey-Do"
About an hour after Trillian solved the problem he created with the bathroom puff, I witnessed the above picture.  Bronx learned how to solve a problem by watching Trillian. He gathered all the same materials that were involved in Trillians experience and climbed on the chair.  The funny part was, he didn't know what to do once he was on there.  He stopped.  Looked at the items in his hand, then carefully climbed back down.  This pic is of the climbing down portion (this is why I should NEVER set my camera down.. I miss stuff. I'm just glad I caught this much!)

The End (insert curtain closing...applause)

Why did I feel the need to share this little tale with you all?  What is my purpose here? 

There are many:

1)  Encourage young children to solve's empowering.
2)  Encourage young children to have a plan and share it with's empowering.
3)  TRUST young children to assess risk and use's empowering.
4)  Encourage young children to's empowering.
5)  Let children's empowering.
6)  Let children's empowering.
7)  Let children ask for what they need, instead of stepping in and helping them without an's empowering.
8)  Let children own's empowering.

So, in nutshell...this post is all about empowering young children!