Yesterday afternoon as we spent some time outdoors, I watched my littlest (who will be 2 on Saturday! How did that happen?!) rifle through the storage box and find a basketball. She takes it over to the basketball hoop and started trying to throw it into the hoop. Of course, the basketball hoop is substantially too high for her. After several attempts, she too recognises this.
"Can't reach it!"
I repeat her words back to her "You are having trouble reaching it?"
"Yep. Too high!" she replies.
She goes and gets a different ball from the box and then returns to the basketball hoop. She starts trying to throw the ball again and as, yet again, it falls very short of the hoop, she begins to show signs of frustration. In stereotypical toddler fashion, her little body appears to melt towards the ground, her fists are clenched and her voice is getting very whiny.
"Can't reach it!" she says again.
It is right here in this moment that I need to decide if and how I will help her. It is so very tempting to find a solution for her, to help her reach the hoop, so that she may experience the satisfaction and I will not need to "endure" the angst, the tears, the whining. But, several things play out in my mind:
Just as I am considering how to proceed, how I can scaffold her to come up with a solution - she beats me to it! I see her start looking around the backyard. Her eyes land on a small black stool and she wanders over to it. She squats beside it for a moment, then picks it up and brings it over to the basketball hoop. She places it beneath the hoop and begins throwing the ball in the air.
It doesn't make it.
But it's okay. She doesn't cry or throw herself to the ground. She looks at me and smiles, "almost!"
And then she says "You lift me up?"
And I do.
Not because I want to fix it for her, but because she asked. And that was part of her problem solving process. She got there... because I left her to it!
By Nicole Halton
* Rainbow hearts to cover the bareness of a happily playing toddler!!
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