Stepping Back

We noticed something interesting the other day during free play.

When one of us was in the dress-up room (now a grocery store) and sitting as an observer and supervisor to the play, there were a number of incidences where we thought some assistance or support was required by the educator to help the play continue smoothly.

At one point the ECE had to be come out of the grocery store to help another child in a different space. The four children playing grocery store stayed in the dress up room and continued their play.

It became very, very quiet in the room. After a quick peek, we saw that everyone was still busy playing. Each child had a role and was engrossed in what they were doing.  Although there was no dialogue between them, on occasion they bumped into one another or got in each others way. Yet there were no problems or support required by outside help. Left on their own, they sorted it out.

Of course, we stayed close and within ear shot, to make sure each child was playing the way they wanted. Yet we discovered a new awareness and respect for the capabilities of the children.

How often does it happen when children can sort things out on their own? How often do we as caregivers/parents/educators unnecessarily or prematurely step in to save the day? And what do children learn, or miss learning, when that happens?