Taking the child’s lead

Today I was doing a little photo shoot for some of next year’s webinars and I had the perfect opportunity to make a choice. My “model” was a 2 year old named Jordan and he was curious about everything when it came to the paint. We started painting with sticks, then fingers, then brushes. He was quick to put the painting sticks into the different coloured paint pots to see what would happen. I didn’t stop him as it was just paint and he was exploring, that was the point of the experience.

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The choice came when Jordan started to paint the paint brush. Do I stop and explain that is not what we are meant to be doing and clean up the brushes and paint and pack it away? Or do I take his lead and let go of control? Observe what he is doing and how I can extend on this in safe and appropriate ways?

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I decided to ask Jordan if he wanted to paint a stick, instead of the paint brush (which by this stage was all white). We went for a search down in the garden and I selected a range of sticks for Jordan to choose from. He chose a piece of wood and on the way back to the painting also picked up a rock he liked.

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When we got back to the table Jordan started to use the rock as a stamp, transferring black paint onto the paper using the rock.

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He then went to use the large piece of wood to paint with, and after a while (and some suggestions), he chose to use the brushes to paint ON the piece of wood.

This experience was a perfect reminder that when doing activities with children it isn’t about us, and our needs, it is about them and their learning. Jordan was busy exploring, investigating and connecting with his world through the different media he was presented with. We all have choices throughout the day as to whether we need to control the situation or choose to connect with the children and take their lead, giving them control over the program.

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