My son is in the 8th grade and preparing for his transition into high school. As a mom, I am so worried about all of the changes that he (and I) are about to encounter. When I think about high school next year, my heart races and I feel a little nauseous. In preparation (for both parent and child), his language arts teacher has had him working on a project titled “Life is Good.” Believe it or not, even I get home work with this one! My job was to write a letter to him and tell him about all the amazing possibilities he is about to face. This project will be turned in for a final grade this week and I have seen us turn our thoughts from worries to possibilities. Instead of focusing on the challenges ahead, he sees the positive in so many things that he encounters now. I am so excited for his future, and I am going to enjoy sharing in the possibilities that he finds along the way.
So many times I enter early childhood programs and I notice teachers and children worried instead of taking time to capitalize on all of the possibilities, fun and learning that could be happening. Life can be stressful, and how we handle that stress in front of our children is important. As professionals in the field of early childhood, I believe that we have a responsibility to help children view a life full of possibilities. The thought of a possibility leads to creativity and problem solving skills when those possibilities aren’t exactly what we would choose them to be.
So, the next time a child spills milk while walking to the lunch table, don’t worry about the clean up, embrace the clean up. Think about all of the learning that can happen in that very normal and natural experience. Not only can you guide a child in how to clean up a spill, but you can shape their thinking about mistakes and accidents. When you help a child recognize that accidents and mistakes are just a natural part of life, you help them realize that they are going to be okay even if things don’t work out exactly the way they were planned. The next time that block tower falls over because the child is using the smaller blocks on the bottom, validate their frustration and help them think about how they could change what they are doing. Capitalizing on those teachable moments that creep up on us can lead children to have a very different outlook on learning and life. My hope is that no matter the age of the children you work with, you take time to encourage a positive perspective on all of the possibilities each day brings, accidental or otherwise.