On one of our sunny days this week, I stripped Ezra down to just a t-shirt, initially thinking he might like a chance to air out somewhere it didn't matter if he took a wee on his own feet. It turned out he hated the feeling of the grass on his bare bum, so anytime he fell down he immediately popped back up, usually with an offended shriek. I left him pantsless for two hours, and he spent the entire time wobbling around the backyard, and occasionally trying to climb things.
My grad school program is based out of the Reggio Emilia approach to preschool education. One of the major tenants of Reggio is trusting children to take risks and allowing them to feel the power of their own bodies. Before thinking about it this way, I think I would have been much more likely to just block kids' access to potentially risky objects, or physically move the kid to the end point instead of letting them go through the process of trying their own bodies at something they're not quite yet capable of reliably doing without assistance. For example, Ezra wanted to look out his bedroom window but it's above his eye level. Rather than just ignore his pointing or hold him up to see out, I moved a step stool against the wall under his window and gave him the space to try it on his own. And then rather than just setting him on the top step, I guided him verbally and physically to climb the stairs himself. Soon I shifted to just verbal encouragement, and hovered my hands near him to catch him if he slipped, and let him do the whole thing on his own. He is so proud of himself going up and down those steps!
|yes, he does have his hair in a gaudy flowered ponytail, the day before his mom took him in for a "boy" haircut|
Similarly, Sasha's play structure in the backyard has a wide ladder on one side leading up to a platform five feet above the ground. I used to just lift Ezra to the top platform and sit up there with him, but now I help him move his hands and feet to pull himself up the ladder, which is a little too large for him to do on his own, but possible for him to do with assistance. This reminds me of scaffolding, which is a theory of learning that comes out of social constructivism -- that kids "scaffold" their knowledge when they push themselves to do things at the edge of their ability level that others around them can already do. Grad school has practical life applications!