Trusting children

I have written posts before about trusting children and putting real items in the classroom. Let me tell you what I have witnessed in my own center throughout this year:

I have a teacher who, like me, trusts children. She just doesn't know how to do it. She wants her classroom to be totally child centered; she wants the children to be responsible and respectful in their environment. She wants them to contribute to that environment, but also knows that she can contribute items in the classroom and they will learn, with some instruction, in proper use of those items.

This teacher also has a class of children with many behavior challenges. She has two children who are drug babies, three who are being raised by grandparents (two of which their parents are in prison), three who have speech delays which has lead to more aggressive behaviors (if I can't tell you to leave me alone, a well place shove, bit, or kick gets my message across). That's half of her class. Include in that the one's with parents who need parenting classes to get it through that no, it's not funny when your child uses bad words, hits, kicks, and wrestles with others. She really has a difficult class.

I have challenged her to start bringing in many items that she was afraid to bring in. First was the pet. Then the wind chimes; and slowly we have added many other items that she was afraid to bring in. Almost every time she looks at me as if she wants to say "You're kidding right Miss Jenni? You do know my class. They are going to destroy this!" However, to her credit, she brings in what I ask her to; or does whatever activity I suggest; and she gives it 100%. She doesn't do it halfway hoping it isn't successful so that she can come back and say "See it didn't work". Most of the time she is surprised! To be honest, sometimes I am too.

So, what have I observed over the course of this year? Anytime we trust the children with something fragile, they surprise us and they actually calm down! Children who are rough and tumble will sit quietly holding the gecko and will protect him. They show more compassion for this small pet than any person. They are gentle and caring and protective.

Given a book that is special, they turn the pages carefully. They make sure that everyone else does too, and the calm down and relax, and are very serious in their duty to be careful.

Sitting at a table with a tablecloth changes the entire atmosphere. Having a real glass vase with flowers encourages them to be careful. Real picture frames are treated with respect. It's like having these "fragile" items around forces them to be more careful; and in doing so, makes them more able to focus and keep control of their bodies and actions.

Have any of you noticed this?

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