Rediscovering the Child Within


Sometimes I look around at the people that I work with and I think, “I really am just a big kid.” I enjoy doing things with the kids. Experiencing life with them is eye-opening, because it causes me to slow down and really think about aspects of life that I probably take for granted.

Have you ever seen a child when they are satisfying their curiosity? I have a boy in my class who is simply as “boy” as they come. He comes in the morning completely “on” and he wakes up from nap completely “on”. The other day I put together a fishing activity in which I put strings of yarn on magnetic wands and paper clips on paper fish. I gave the wands to the kids and they began to fish. But about fifteen minutes later, I looked at this child. He had developed a pulley by using the hand that was not pulling the string in place of the wheel that most pulleys are made of. I watched him pull the yarn back and forth through his finger. He was absolutely oblivious to the noise of the other children in the classroom, completely intent on the actions of his hands and the magnet. A little later he explored the effects of the magnet as a pendulum, but he did not stay with that exploration for very long.

Little moments like this define the direction of my classroom. Sometimes I worry that someone will say that my classroom is out of control, simply because children tend to use objects in ways other than their intended purpose when their patience with the intended purpose has lapsed. It is in these moments that children’s true capabilities can be seen.

As adults we are so intent on each tool we use or item we have having a specific purpose, with no room for exploration of other purposes. We are stuck on not breaking something or not messing anything up. I very easily could have told the boy that “we don’t use the magnet like that!” But I would have lost out on seeing his calm, deliberate actions as he explored his pulley, and he would have lost out on the experience of exploring the pulley for himself.

It makes me wonder, how many moments do we miss out on as adults because we simply don’t slow down? How many ideas do we miss out on because we take so much of what we think we know for granted? Do we stop to entertain ideas – no matter how crazy they may seem? Or are we too busy trying to be “normal”? Perhaps we need to search for the child inside us – the one who is curious about everything because everything is new and different and exciting. Maybe we need to pause for a moment like the boy did and discover just how many things we can do with an object, or try to do something a new way, just to see what it is like.

The point is, we need to rediscover that child within us. We need to remember what it feels like to be excited about the little things in life, and slow down enough to experience those little things. There is so much that we miss out on if we continue through life at breakneck speed.