|TOP kids climbing in a Western Red Cedar.|
It was only the 2nd day of The Outdoor Preschool and the kids were already getting more adventurous, curious and willing to take chances. The favorite climbing tree was a happy place with many kids trying out the branches that grow close together, just asking for a small child to climb them! The younger kids watched and learned by observing. We will encourage them to try climbing but not before they have had a chance to learn by watching.
For some of us parents it is a hard thing to watch our child standing apart; watching but not interacting. If you have ever taken a parent/child class with a child who doesn't want to interact, it can be very frustrating. I know it was hard for me when my child was 3-watching all of the other children ready to jump in to class, gymnastics in our case, and my child was just waiting and observing. At the time, before I was a preschool teacher, I wondered if it was worth the money to pay for a class that my child was obviously not ready for. But low and behold, soon my child was on the trampoline and walking on the balance beam along with the other children.
We learn so much by watching. Many of us learned how to cook by first watching our parents cook in the kitchen. Many of the rules of the road we learned just by being in the car with our parents while they drove us around. So why don't we want to let our child just watch for awhile?
At TOP we take time for everything. A child doesn't have to speak up if they aren't ready. They don't have to climb if they aren't ready. Although they do have to follow all of the safety rules and keep up with the group. Something that can be a challenge these first weeks of preschool. We will encourage them to talk during circle time or try balancing on a tree log-but we won't insist. Children need to be ready.
Right now many of the new kids are learning how to climb without assistance. This doesn't mean I am more than a foot away from them, but that I won't pick them up. I will help them by mentioning branches to grab, where a foot might go or even to kneel down and let them use my knee as a stepping stool. Yesterday, as I knelt down to help a child climb up to the "trunk" of the elephant tree-the little girl picked up her foot and showed me the bottom of her muddy boot-as if that answered it all. Without words, she pointed to her boot. I said " oh -is your boot muddy?" And she said "yes." I told her that I didn't mind getting muddy-that is what we do at TOP. Right behind me Conrad told her - "Its ok to get dirty at TOP. That's what we do-right Teacher Ann? " "Right!"
Finally she put her dirty boot on my knee and climbed straight up to the trunk.