paint tower

On Being Helpful


paint towerThe paint tower.

Small jars of paint, paper suspended and trailing, chairs and stepladders to reach the highest level, an invitation to extend, experiment and test paint, paper and oneself.


A small boy, perhaps 2 1/2, stands on the floor and sees a jar of paint and  a paintbrush on the very top level of the paint tower. He stretches as tall as he can to grasp the brush, then very slowly lifts it out of the jar.  Every muscle in his body is stretched, and every nerve is tensed  so the brush doesn’t make the paint jar tip over.  His concentration is absolute.


The boy makes two thick black lines on the paper, then stretches again to dip the brush into the paint. He repeats this process, and not once does the paint jar move.


A adult is chatting nearby and glances at the boy as he stretches. The adult says “Let me help you there” and moves the paint jar down to the lower table, and then resumes chatting.


The boy looks at the paint jar now within easy reach, and walks away.

How often are we the ‘helpful’ adult?

About Kim

Kim is an admitted ECE geek. She and Danielle have bonded over their shared geekdom and have come to terms with it. She is a pedagogical facilitator working with educators in a number of early learning settings supporting and extending new thinking and practice. She loves reading, writing, talking and sharing ideas about the potentials of teaching and learning with ece's and young children. ECE geeks unite!

2 thoughts on “On Being Helpful

  1. Too often. And WHY do we help too much? It does not send children the message that they are indeed capable. It matches with a different image of children…one in which they are viewed as being in need of help and protection, perhaps?

  2. I think you are right Lynne, there is something about wanting to make things easier for children, we don’t want them to struggle. But kids don’t always see it that way, struggling is interesting! Otherwise none of us would have ever learned to walk!

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