Friday, October 9, 2009

Encourage Children to Experiment and Give Them Time to Get Comfortable With a New Experience

Our classroom is extremely hands-on. In the fall, we go pumpkin picking at a nearby farm. When we return to class, we cut the pumpkin open to show the children the seeds and pulp inside. Each child is encouraged to stick his hand in and pull out some seeds that we will later bake. While most kids are willing to explore the pumpkin’s innards, some are hesitant. Many of them have never seen the inside of a pumpkin before and they are leery of the gooey, moist texture.

Lily was afraid to even peer inside the pumpkin. We talked about what she thought was inside but she was hesitant to even discuss it. She simply wanted no part of the pumpkin project and merely watched as the other children took their turns. A couple of kids only poked one finger inside, while others stuck their entire fists way down in and scooped out a pulpy handful. Lily watched them all.

After the kids who wanted a turn were finished and had washed their hands, we moved on to free play. We kept the pumpkin accessible in case the children wanted to look at it. About 15 minutes later, we noticed Lily gingerly poking first her finger, than two fingers into the pumpkin. She grabbed a seed and quickly pulled it out. That was huge for Lily and we were so proud of her. She was also clearly proud of herself.

When Lily’s mother came to pick her up at the end of the day, she showed her the pumpkin and the seeds we had salted and baked. “I made these!” she said beaming.

After that, whenever Lily was afraid to try something new, we reminded her about her pumpkin adventure. That experience gave her the confidence to try other new things. If your child is hesitant to try something at first, give her the opportunity to try again. Sometimes, it just takes time to warm up to a new idea.

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