Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

A few weeks back Stephanie and I had a long chat about child-initiated conversations.  What does it mean?  How does it work?  What does it sound like to let a 2 or 3 year old completely initiate and lead the conversation?  There are many answers to these questions, so I'll just keep them rhetorical.

Instead, I will tell you a story about how I reflected on these questions and was surprised by what I found.

I decided to be more selective about initiating conversations with the kids.  I basically spent a day letting all the conversations come to me.  This was mostly business as usual until I saw this:

I definitely wanted to ask about this!  I was curious to hear the hows and whys of this little stamping party.  I fought the urge.  I didn't ask.  Why bring it up?  This decorating took place the evening before and her mind was far from the going ons of last night.  She was busy playing and there was no reason to initiate a conversation just to satisfy my curiosity.  So, I let it go.  

I swear not 10 minutes passed and guess who came over to me and said, "Hey look at this!"  Let the conversation begin!  

I learned a long time ago to be a wallflower kind of teacher.  I sit back and let them do their own things.  I don't interrupt an art project by inserting my own opinion or observations.  I don't walk up to children while they are in the middle of play and bring up random conversation.  I have respect for their concentration, even when it doesn't look necessarily important to me.

I'm not suggesting that you never initiate conversation with the kids, but I do encourage you to observe how often you let them initiate.  All you have to do is sit quietly nearby.  Before you know it, you'll be having all sorts of silly conversations!


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