Little learners are industrious! They can accomplish much in a short time: unloading cabinets. emptying bags of flour for "snow", unwinding tape rolls. Their industry may not be what we define as true betterment.
However, in those tough to see times, it is important to understand a little learner's definition of industry is key to developing independence.
Given a task, an important one, one they care about, they will accomplish much and feel incredibly empowered, eager for the next "job".
Mr. Red, the fish we inherited from great-grandma, needed a clean bowl. The water had become a science culture--I am sure, though I didn't test it. Poor Mr. Red!
Sick children needed care. Mr. Red had to wait.
I moved the fish bowl to the kitchen counter, near the sink, grabbed an extra large coffee cup from the cabinet, scooped Mr. Red into the cup, and within seconds our little learner "wanted to help".
"Let me do it, too!"
What toddler doesn't like to play in water?
Mr. Red was swimming happily in the coffee cup I placed out of reach. I dumped the yucky water in the sink, poured and rinsed the ornamental rocks. Chair pushed to the sink, a smiling eager and confident helper turned on the tap and began cleaning rocks. One squirt of soap. Two squirts of soap. Fine motor muscles were getting a work out. Three squirts, four.
Thirty minutes later, my assistant had cleaned every rock and placed them back in the bowl. She beamed with pride. She had contributed to the care for our beloved Mr. Red--her pet!
A first step of responsibility. A first step toward independence.
My little learner knew she could be a productive, contributing member of the family, accomplishing tasks of importance. Her smile spanned ear to ear, dimples dotting each corner, for the next several hours.
Little learners wants to contribute, to serve, to care. In doing so, each time they take another step toward independence, they catch another glimpse of a much bigger picture, one much bigger than oneself.
What started as "let me do it!" ended with
"I like being a part of a family!"
You may have little learners, or not so littles, eager to contribute, eager to work alongside.
How can he or she make a difference and catch a glimpse of a greater community?
Imagine the possibilities!
- help organize the pantry, cylinder cans on one shelf, rectangular boxes on another.
- water the plants, inside or out, with a pump spray bottle (great for fine motor skills)
- fold washcloths in half and half again
- match socks
- sort laundry
- organize the plastic container cabinet
- feed pets (with supervision)
- sort coins- pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters
- roll coins (get paper rolls at the bank)
- collect the newspaper from the end of the driveway
- carry a neighbor's garbage cans to their designated area
- fill ice cube trays with fresh water
- make sandwiches (spreading is a great skill)
- peel carrots or wash potatoes (with supervision)
- empty bathroom trash cans into the larger garbage can
- carry hangers to the laundry room
- make cookies (with supervision)
- help put seeds in seed beds
- refill bird feeders
- help wash the car (and clean out the inside)
- put library books in the bag to go to the library
Embrace the industrious little learner at your feet! His or her inquisitive energy can be productive, taking one step closer to responsibility and independence.
Cultivate, then celebrate, the milestone--together!
Want to learn more about little learners? Join me at my Teaching Preschoolers and Little Learners workshop at FPEA 2016!