Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Competence

Shoe Painting (Brick by Brick)

"I know what to do!" she said as she stood at the art table. 

"Tell me," I said. She began to put on a paint smock.

"Put the shoes in there and then on here," she said, pointing first to the paint and then the paper. (More about shoe painting here.)

"You know what to do," I said. "You don't need me to remind you."

This was a departure from past weeks. Often my kids will walk to a table and immediately ask, "What do we do here?" I think they've come to expect my answer. "What do you think you do? Look at the table and tell me what you think."

Weeks and weeks of this response. Weeks and weeks of trying and experimenting. Now my kids seem comfortable and confidence in jumping into whatever is on a table or the floor.

Sometimes they ask if they can try something. Sometimes they still need a little push of an idea. But now they are competent in trying and doing. They are competent and comfortable and confident.

Writing sentences (Brick by Brick)

At another table, children were folding accordion books or just drawing on the paper.

"I know what to do," said one girl. She drew vertical lines, dividing her paper into several sections.

"Now," she said, "I have a space for every letter."

She wrote a sentence, one letter in each space, moving to the next line when needed. She showed me the sentence and I read it. She thought for a minute and then began to write again. A second sentence. Both original with no prompting from me. But both sentences related to our overall study.

She was competent in what she has learned in her school classroom and bringing that into a new setting in our church classroom. She is confident in using her own ideas and trying something different than my own idea (accordion book).

I smiled, both outward and inward, as I read the sentences. Her smile beamed back at me.

Building with cylinders (Brick by Brick)

All the blocks had been used and more children wanted to build. I brought more blocks from our resource room. After the initial dash to gather what they wanted, the group continued to build. A boy walked over to the bin and began picking up the colored cylinders. He placed another and another into his arms, finding nooks to hold each one.

"Can you carry all those cylinders?" I asked. "Do you need help?"

He didn't answer. He was too busy concentrating on his work. Before I could even take a step toward him to assist, he snugged the last cylinder against his body and quickly walked to his structure. He dumped them on the floor and began to quickly assimilate them into his building.

He knew what to do. He felt competent and confident because he had done it before, with fewer and smaller blocks. He didn't need any support. He could do it.

I love to watch my kindergartners grow throughout the year. I love to see them do more and more. I love to see their competence develop in all kinds of areas.

I love to have an environment that nurtures children's growing abilities. And I continue to be surprised by all they do and all they think.

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