Tag Archives: Image of the child


A Rolling Pin Problem

Theo, Jake and Iris are standing around a table with clay, mallets and rolling pins. They are fully engaged in their own pursuits, seemingly unaware of one another.

That is until Jake spots the rolling pin in Theo’s hand. Jake looks at Theo, looks at the rolling pin, looks back at Theo….the message is clear, he wants the rolling pin. Jake notices Theo eying the rolling pin and immediately tucks the rolling pin protectively under his arm. Theo retreats, head hanging down, recognizing there is no hope for him and the rolling pin. But Jake sees how sad Theo is, reconsiders, and holds the rolling pin out gesturing for him to to take it. Theo however, doesn’t see the gesture and continues retreating, head hanging low.


Iris has been watching keenly,  and knows exactly what is going on…..she quickly grabs the rolling pin from Jake’s hand and deftly thrusts it in front of Theo’s face to make sure he sees it. Theo takes the rolling pin and turns back to roll a piece of clay in front of him.

All three continue with their own clay pursuits, again seemingly unaware of each other.

I observed this small interaction, it happened silently, quickly, and without drama. These children were communicating, understanding a problem, finding a solution, reading non verbal cues, negotiating, showing empathy, understanding, and generosity. And all of them were 3 years old or less.

How many of these moments happen in a day among children? How many acts of generosity, of understanding do we miss?

How many times do we impose our solution to a rolling pin problems? We seem  certain that our help is needed, that a solution cannot be found without us.

Jake, Theo and Iris didn’t need me or  my ideas. They didn’t even need words. It really wasn’t a problem at all.

The island complete with palm tree and coconut

Clay is Stronger Than Playdough

We see….a child who know how to wait and who has high expectations. A child who wants to show that he or she knows things and knows how to do things, and who has all the strength and potential that comes from children’s ability to wonder and to be amazed. A child who is powerful from the moment of birth because he is open to the world and capable of constructing his own knowledge. A child who is seen in his wholeness, who possesses his own direction and the desire for knowledge and for life. A competent child!             Carlina Rinaldi

“Clay is stronger than playdough”. That’s what Zach said to me. I said “Do you mean that playdough droops?”  “No” he said “It doesn’t droop, it just falls over.”  Which is, of course, very true.

The island complete with palm tree and coconut


And here is what he did with clay: he constructed a replica of an image from a book he had read a week before. Every detail. An island with a palm tree that has a coconut hanging from it, there is a turtle, a bird and a fish.

The image in Zach's mind that he re-created

So here is this boy comparing the relative characteristics of clay and playdough, and then perfectly re-representing an image that he was carrying around in his head…..and he is not yet three years old.

Zach sat working on his island for 30 minutes, all the while chatting with the adult beside him.  This adult recognized that Zack  “knows how to do things” and didn’t need to be ‘taught’ about clay, about playdough, or about sculpting.

How often in these moments do we adults take over, make suggestions, impose our ideas, show how it can be done? Maybe we should just be quiet and watch…..and the child will show us how it can be done.

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The Power of “I can”

I can dress myself!
I think sometimes as adults we forget the power of “I can”. Its been so long since we acquired a new skill that the feeling of discovery, joy and power can sometimes be lost on us.
Childhood is full of those moments.
Chalk full of those moments.
As  adults though we can find those “I can” moments frustrating because we forget the thrill of learning something new.
For instance my daughter can take her own diaper off. Everyday this week she has removed her diaper when she wakes up from nap and happily played naked as a jaybird in her crib. This has frustrated me all week. The constant pee everywhere, the constant laundry, followed by the constant baths.
She happily holds up her diaper when I walk in the room to show me like its a prize she just won with the biggest proudest smile on her face.
Today as I walked into her room to catch her taking off her diaper, I asked myself “why is she doing this?”
It hit me like a tonne of bricks.
“She did it because she could.”
Last week she couldn’t, now she can.
It wasn’t to drive me crazy. It wasn’t to purposely create more laundry for me.
It was because it felt good to do something new.
Of course all this pondering has me thinking of all the other “I can” instances in my career that passed me by because I was to busy being frustrated. 
 Looking at children through a lens of being capable can change frustration to elation.
What “I can” moments have you shared in lately?

Toddlers are amazing

 As I have admitted before the majority of my career has been spent with preschoolers with wee interludes of time spent with  infants. I have spent very little time on the floor with toddlers.

So being the parent of a toddler has been an education. My daughter shows me time and time again just how capable young children are. She has had me awestruck many times since the day she was born. I must also admit though that my reactions are very different sometimes from the way I would of reacted as an educator of other’s children. This is not because my beliefs don’t transfer to parenting, it is more because of the fear of judgement. Interactions where I would of given the children space to negotiate it themselves, I sometimes feel myself jumping in to “fix” it for them. I do it begrudgingly too. I desperately want to see what happens next if I leave the children to negotiate it themselves but that fear of judgement from other parents is powerful.

Sometimes I am brave and I say something like “lets just give them a minute”  or “lets just see what happens.” On those occasion the children show us that yes they can do it, they may just do it differently then we would of.

I am up visiting my family this week. Yesterday my sister asked if I would watch her son while she tried to paint some doors in her house. I was excited it would be great to have someone over for Helaina to play with. When Cason arrived, Helaina was still sleeping. So he and I played for a little while. When I heard Helaina awake I took Cason with me into her room to get her. The joy on each of their faces when they saw each other was awesome. They both decided they wanted to play outside on my parents deck. Helaina got her boots on and out we went.

On the deck is a favourite toy of all my nieces and nephew. A little yellow and red car for riding in. They both wanted it. Cason got in first. My parents weren’t home and I was by myself with the children. So I decided to take a step back and let them figure it out. Here is what I saw.


Helaina quietly and physically suggested maybe they could share it. (please remember these are only my assumptions I could be totally wrong.)



Cason and Helaina engaged in a very long but what appeared to be civil conversation about the car.


Helaina crouched down to Cason’s level to discuss the matter. (I privately would like to think this was my influence as I get down to the children and Helaina’s level when talking.)


It then appeared like Helaina was trying to explain “well if you just move over there we can both fit in.” Again it was all very civil at this point.

Cason got out and Helaina jumped in.

Cason didn’t seem okay with Helaina getting in. When I walked closer to them he would point and say something. I am imagining he is telling me “Auntie she is in my car.”

The funny thing about it was they played very differently in the car. Cason wanted to be in the car playing with the steering wheel and horn. Helaina wanted to get in and out of the car.

When Helaina got out the first time.


He said something to Helaina and crossed his arms across his chest. Helaina mirrored his stance and crossed hers. We had a stand off. They talked very seriously for quite a while. Arms in front of their chests.  When Cason took a step closer to the car Helaina jumped in.  Cason watched her for a while and then decided to find something else to play with.

Here is what I loved about this. They may not have a huge vocabulary of words but they were talking. I didn’t understand them but they seemed to understand each other. They spoke not only with their words but with their bodies. The communication was rich. Also this took place over a long period of time. They were quite happy to take their time to discuss this matter which we as adults don’t like to do. We want a quick fix. We need things to fit into a schedule. We don’t spend that long on negotiations in our day to day lives. We want to figure it out and move onto the next thing. I wonder if this is why we feel the need to “fix” things for our children.

The truth of course is I can only assume what was happening.

What do you see happening?