Being new in this setting, one of the first things I wanted to do was just get to know the children.
I have been doing a little extra teaching on the weekends in my local church. To be clear, I am not the lead teacher or the assistant teacher but rather a person that comes in and just helps the main teachers out whenever and where ever they need.
The first thing…
Because I am new to this particular setting, one of the first things I wanted to do was just get to know the children and since the other teachers were busy greeting the parents and managing the general flow of the classroom, I had the sweet opportunity to totally focus on getting to know the children.
I sat down in the middle of the floor and waited for the children to come in the door. On this recent occasion, a little guy I hadn’t met before walked in, came straight over to me, and started talking.
He was excited to tell me story after story about things at home that he loved or didn’t love so much. He talked so fast that I wasn’t able to make out every word he said, but I was able to get the gist of most of what he was saying.
After a few minutes went by…
He finished up his story-telling and just stood there looking at me. I asked him, “Would you like to play with the train tracks?” He shook his head no. Then the other teachers offered him a few other ideas but he just continued to stand there and look at me so I just smiled at him and waited.
Then I asked him, “Would you just like to talk with me some more?” and he said, “Yes.” I let him know that I was happy to hear more of his stories so he dived back in and began to talk again. After a few more stories, he wondered off to play with friends.
I went home thinking about this little guy and three things stood out in my mind.
- By sitting on the floor, this little guy didn’t hesitate to come and talk to me even though he had never met me before. I think just being on the floor made me appear approachable.
- I noticed that when I would ask him a question, he would pause a minute and then answer my question. He needed time to process what I had asked, formulate his thoughts, and then put it all into words.
- And although it took me a minute to figure it out, I realized that by not hurrying him off to play but just staying still and listening, we were connecting and he liked it. He just wanted to hang on to that moment for a little bit longer.
Three Elements of Building Healthy Relationships
There were three elements of building healthy relationships present in this moment: Being approachable, waiting, and listening. I left thinking, “how many times do I rush children off to “do something” when what I just need to do is sit down and let them “do nothing” but talk to me?
Building relationships does involve inviting the children to actively participate in the things we have going on around the classroom but sometimes, all the children want is for the adult(s) in the room just to slow down and be present in their lives. AND WE KNOW that before you can truly teach the child, you must first reach the child.