Monday, November 9, 2009

strength & patience

There was no reason for me to be in a hurry- but I was. Writing workshop was over and I was trying to hustle and bustle the group I was working with into cleaning up fast- get to the carpet quickly- because that's what we do in kindergarten- move as a group from one activity to another. I reached out to put her papers into her folder when I heard her small voice,
"Please, Mrs. Lipstick, let me do it myself"

Using the limited muscle movement in her hands and arms she set about putting her writing workshop papers into her folder. Opening her folder and slowly trying to slide the paper inside the flap- by herself. An act her friends had all done quickly, without giving it a second thought, and then flew to the carpet to hear the next part of the lesson.

"Just let me know when you need help" I whispered. It would be so, so much faster if I did it for her. Scooped up the papers, gone on with the lesson. In fact, I almost had done it before she could ask to do it herself. If I hadn't heard her soft voice we'd be on the carpet now.

But she worked at the paper, pushing it this way and that, using both hands when she could. When she finally realized she needed help she asked, but gave me a specific direction, "I need help holding up the flap". So I held the flap up as she slowly, carefully slid the papers in.

Right when I thought she was done she wasn't- they weren't in all the way (so few of our kindergartners even wait for their papers to be in all the way...) but she knew she could do it- she would make them perfect. Slowly, slowly she slid the papers to the right and the left- making sure they went down into the folder straight as soldiers- not one corner out of place.

Her eyes met mine and we grinned- knowing what a large accomplishment it was.

I could have been in a hurry- could have done it myself. Could have ended writing workshop and moved on. We'd have been on the carpet faster- her with one less accomplishment for the day, me without having a strong reminder of the importance of listening and watching each individual child in order to meet their needs.

I have never seen such a strong kindergartner.
I have never watched someone so determined to accomplish something so difficult for them when an easier option is available.
If only I had that sort of strength- if we all did? What could we accomplish?

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