The other day, my daughter found a container perched on a shelf. It was new to her, she had never seen it.
“This new mama? Can I look at it?” She asked with a big curious grin.
“Oh yeah, I bought it this morning.” I answered. I was going to tell her more but I stopped myself.
My daughter’s desire to really know what this was, was evident in the way she was staring and reaching on her tippy- toes. Anyways, before I could respond, she had taken off to another room, returning with a stool in her hands.
“I can reach for it with the stool. Look mama, I reached it!” she said with enthusiasm.
“Yes, you were able to get it. And now?” I asked.
“I want to smell it.” she said. (I love that 3 year olds are totally into smelling things when they are curious) “It’s GLUE mama, It smells like GLUE!”
“It smells like glue.” I echoed.
My daughter promptly put the glue container on our little red table, raced to her “projects” drawer and took out some paper and small scissors. She came back to me and said
“Can we go outside? I want to test the NEW glue. I want to know if it’s sticky like the old one.”
Sitting outside, my daughter meticulously cut some paper and then started to fidget with the new glue container. She couldn’t get any glue to come out.
“Uhm..nothing dripping out.” she wondered outloud. “I gonna open it”….”uhm..maybe like this. Oh, look mama there is a blocker on it.”
The blocker was a small plastic cap on the inside of the glue container keeping the glue from rushing into the dispenser. After pulling, tugging and tapping my daughter got the cap off. She screwed the dispenser top back on again and started squeezing the glue.
“AWWW! IT WORKS! IT IS GLUE! IT IS STICKY! MAMA LOOK!!!” she said with so much enthusiasm.
What a beautiful process this was, to watch my daughter lead the way in her own learning. She investigated, she problem solved, she focused. Yes, it’s just a tube of glue but, this focus, this drive, this is what children need to thrive in their learning.
Direction has a place, instructions sometimes are needed but moments like this remind me that our children often, very often, have the answers within themselves.
We do well by our children to trust them, to give them a chance to learn, explore, investigate and find their own answers. We do well not to rush, nag and take over. If we trust our children to engage with their world, give them the space and opportunity, they feel so capable and so proud.
Learning goes far beyond just listening and following directions. True learning comes from exploration, discovery and imagination. Children are hard wired to do all that – we just need to gift them the time to do it.
Peace & Be Well,