Do you give children time to think?
‘What an odd question’, I hear you say.
’Of course children think... I spend all day chatting to them, asking them questions, showing them new things, playing with them, taking an interest in their toys and games...’
Yes, I know all that, but do they have time to really think?
Go back over today...
Did you give each child choices ... and wait for them to answer... and then follow what they said...?
What about the child who takes forever to make up her mind? Did you ask for her choice or decide on her behalf because it was quicker and you were in a rush?
Did you ask children to tell you about their favourite part of the day? Did they have an opinion or a story to tell you?
Did you ask them the question at a time in the day when you had nothing else to do but sit and listen to their answer?
Did you leave children to play their own games for a length of time, without asking questions or getting involved?
If you can answer yes to the above then you are respecting each child as an individual with a valid opinion and giving them time in the day to think.
Here are some more questions to help you examine your practice...
If a child was playing with the doctor’s kit and making all the animals better what would you be more likely to do..?
1. Leave him to play because he is having fun;
2. Go over and chat to him because you feel you really should explain the differences between doctors and vets;
3. Interrupt his game to show him where the pad and pencil are located in case he wants to write a prescription.
If a child comes to you with a conker what would you be more likely to do...?
1. Ask him to tell you the colour of the conker;
2. Comment on how shiny and smooth the conker is and encourage him to feel it with his fingers;
3. Ask him where he found the conker and listen to his story about a weekend spent in the woods with his daddy.
At story time one child tells you he wants to carry on playing with the Lego. Would you jolly him along with promises of Lego later so that he comes and joins you ... or would you respect his wishes and leave him to play?
Giving children time to think is not just about asking questions.
In truth I think that sometimes we all ask far too many questions and interrupt children’s play too often to follow our own agendas!
Giving children time to think is about our own listening skills... how have you used your listening skills today?
Why not try using them a little more every day? :-)