Take a look at this short video from the Increase your Knowledge page on the Early Math Counts website and consider the following:
1. How do you promote problem-solving skills with your children?
2. When opportunities arise for children to “figure things out” on their own, do you let them?
3. Are you often tempted to do things for children that they can do for themselves?
4. Is it easier and quicker to solve children’s problems than allowing them the time and support to solve them for themselves?
Yesterday, I was in a 3-year-old classroom where the teacher has spent the better part of the year focusing on supporting children’s independence, autonomy, and problem-solving skills. I was sitting on the rug while she read a story when I noticed a boy trying very hard to tie his shoes. He glanced over at me and I found myself whispering, “Do you want me to help you tie your shoes?” He looked at me like I was speaking Latin. I then remembered that the children in this room are encouraged to solve their own problems, figure things out for themselves, and work diligently to get hard jobs done. Although it took a long time, and the laces didn’t look too secure, he did get those shoes tied without my help.
This interaction reminded me that even though I like to be helpful and fix things, this is not ideal for young children as they develop autonomy. What makes me feel good and useful is not and should not be the focus of my interactions with children.