Nothing To Sneeze At…
Wendy Shima, M.Ed.
I was sitting in a waiting room the other day and happened to notice a young mother and her little boy, maybe 3 or 4 years old. He was occupying himself with toys, staying close to his mother and conversing with her. Now, as an instructor in the field of Early Childhood, it often happens that when I am at loose end, I take to observing around me. I am particularly interested in how we communicate with each other and I often overhear conversations while out and about that are intriguing.
On this particular morning, I observed a not-so-unique exchange between this mother and son duo. I was sitting a few chairs away when the little boy suddenly sneezed on his mother. She leaned over and explained to him, “You need to cover that”. She turned back to what she was doing and sure enough, the little boy sneezed on her again, still without covering his sneeze. This time, the mother became somewhat annoyed and more firmly commented, ”I told you to cover that!” And then added for emphasis, “Why don’t you listen to me?”
I thought to myself how much was going on in those statements! How could this have been a more positive moment for both mom and son? Could we offer these basic, how-to-live-in-the-world lessons to children in a way that they become interesting, even fun, experiences?
I once had a classroom full of 3 and 4 year old children who, unintentionally, fell out of their chairs on a regular basis. One day, I gathered the children in a circle and put a child sized chair in the middle. I told the children I was going to demonstrate the proper way to sit on a chair. I slowly walked to the chair, turned around, sat halfway on the chair and then promptly fell on the floor. The children burst out laughing. I stood up, brushed myself off, and explained that I needed a little practice, too! Did anyone have a suggestion for me? I couldn’t count the number of ideas the children had for me! All of a sudden, every child in the circle wanted to show me how to sit properly and carefully on a chair.
Sometimes we learn the best and have the most fun when we have a leadership role in what we are learning. And wouldn’t we, as adults, enjoy the lessons more in this format as well? My wish for us all is that we can find a little more fun in learning, even if it’s just learning how to cover a sneeze!
To stimulate life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself, that is the first duty of the educator. Maria Montessori
Hi! I'm Wendy Shima, the Coordinator and an instructor for the Early Childhood Education Program at Technical College of the Rockies in Delta, Colorado. I started this site to help navigate the process for becoming an Early Childhood Professional. I hope you find it helpful!