Friday morning’s Play Shoppe at The Parenting Place found most signs of the successful Block Extravaganza from the evening before put away, except for the many large cardboard building blocks that remained in the gathering room. As the morning play continued, I suggested to one little boy that he might use the grocery cart to move some of these blocks to their official site in the Play Room.
I had to say no more.
He immediately began stuffing the blocks into his cart. Soon another little boy showed up with a push wagon to help – and then a little girl filling her doll stroller – with not a word from me.
I stayed out of their way and just observed their industriousness – as did their parents who were busy with their younger children. I had anticipated they would just dump their loads of blocks on the carpet in front of the block shelves. But no. They were in charge. And so they began actually putting the blocks back on the shelves.
Before long, however, they realized there was a problem. Setting the blocks just willy nilly was not going to work. The large ones needed to be put in first, the small ones next. So they rearranged what they had begun, fixed it to their satisfaction and took off to retrieve more blocks.
The look on these children’s faces was priceless. They had an air of pure pride, purpose and genuine satisfaction as they zoomed back and forth, heady in this opportunity to problem solve, appreciate a sense of mission and work cooperatively.
Later on that day, I had a conversation with a mom whose 4-year-old son’s child care uses green, yellow, and red zones to manage behaviors. A child’s name starts off in the green zone. If they have to be reminded of sitting still, paying attention, staying on task, not talking out of turn, not initiating distractions, they end up in the yellow zone (warning) and next the red zone (note sent home to parents). I couldn’t stop thinking about this little boy.
On Sunday my husband and I went to see the compelling movie, Hugo. It depicted two young characters who were so resourceful, eager, creative, imaginative, purposeful, determined and confident in their abilities. The whole movie is an invitation to “come and dream” – to recognize one’s purpose, one’s work.
How significantly different an experience this little guy who ends up in the red zone so often is having than the Play Shoppe workers of Friday morning or the two children in the movie. The boy ends up in the red zone so often, not because he’s truly a naughty boy – but because, I believe, he so desperately needs some time to channel his own creative energy, impulse and imagination and have a chance to “do” his work.
Our children are “the genius that invents the future”.
Let’s give them the time and opportunities they need to put to use their bursting creativity to accomplish their own inspired work.