He Chose to Challenge Himself.

For those of you who don't know, I work in an Infant and Toddler room.  We have 12 infants and toddlers all under the age of 3.  

We have done our best to create a unique outside play space but there are days when it just feels a bit hemmed in and so we like to walk to one of our local parks a few blocks away.  This park is well kept with a large grassy area, perfect for running and chasing and sometimes kicking a ball.  Our little ones don't need much though as running in wide-open spaces is fun in itself.  There is some equipment at this park mostly designed for older children.  Our little ones figure out how to use it on some level and if our backs allow we will sometimes lift them into the swings.

Another feature of this park is a pile of large rocks, boulders I guess you would say.  It's amazing how many of our smallest children are attracted to this pile. Not all of the children, but quite a few.  These rocks were intentionally placed there, and have little pathways between them so that the children can go from one to the other.  And higher and higher.

This little fellow is the youngest in our group and as usual, I have learned amazing things from him and about him.  It's probably true that most of society thinks that teachers are supposed to teach students but I guess I am unusual.  I have to acknowledge that I get taught something most days by my students.  And well, hopefully, that is reciprocated as I am in relationship with them.

So, what did I learn from this really small person?  I learned that he is capable.  I learned that he can make choices for himself and follow through on those choices.  I learned that when he needs help, he will ask.  I learned that I could trust him.

Just to be clear, I stayed beside him, kept my hands to myself and bit my tongue.  Was it hard to watch him climb up on these boulders?  Yes, it was. The point I have come to in my practice is to support and encourage the personal growth of the individual children in my care.  I continually assessed the risk involved in this scenerio and that is why I am right beside this little one and not standing at the bottom. In fact, I asked my co-worker to take these pics because I was not taking my eyes off of him. 

He knew what he wanted and where he wanted to go.  It took him a while to figure out which route worked best.

He was comfortable and not afraid of where he chose to climb.  He used hands and feet and sometimes lay flat on the rocks until he placed his feet where he wanted them.

The next time we were at the park, he chose to climb on the boulders again.

* he is learning to problem - solve
*he is learning about his physical capabilities and limitations
*he is learning to be independent and making choices for himself
*he is learning to cope in a new environment
* he is using his large muscles
*he is experiencing nature and spending time outdoors
*he is socializing and turn-taking (there were other children climbing at the same time)
*he is intrinsically motivated and therefore is safer
*he will come away with personal satisfaction and pride because of his accomplishment

What are some benefits that you see?

Follow your dreams little one, the sky's the limit and even though I know you will figure it out in your own way and your own time.....the carrot does come up.

*photos used with permission*

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