We’ve been working hard at fostering independence, perseverance and a sense of community in our classroom by encouraging each other to try things on our own and/or to ask friends for help or ideas (rather than going straight to a teacher.)
There are so many small things that we,
as grownups, take for granted.
One of the gifts of working with young children in ways that allow them to discover on their own is that we get to revisit a variety of small things that we assume we already know so much about.
Take those self-inking stamps that are used to mark documents. Imagine a small group of children indulging in the pleasure of filling page after page (after page) with the stamped word “COPY,” when, suddenly, the word stops showing up clearly. What do they do? What would you do?
Rather than immediately seeking the help of a teacher, this is the conversation that took place:
Heather: What is wrong with this thing?
Rebecca: It’s not working?
They both try to use it.
Anne: You got to push it hard like this.
Anne demonstrates pushing down on the stamp until her whole body trembles with the effort. Heather tries this and, indeed, the stamp is a little clearer.
Heather: That’s a little better, but it’s still not doing it all the way, see?
Anne: Oh. Well, you have to do it harder.
Rebecca: Yeah, Heather. You have to do it so much harder.
Heather tries again.
Heather: I need help.
Anne: We could all do it together!
The three girls push down together; the image is a little better but still doesn’t come up to Heather’s standards.
Rebecca: Charlie, can you help us?
Charlie: You just want me to push it down with you?
All three girls: Yes!
They all push down really hard for several seconds. When they remove the stamp, Heather points out the very well-inked “COPY” on her page.
Heather: Yes! That’s how you do it. We figured it out, guys!