When I was the mother of two small girls I heard a grannie on the radio. She had a compelling tone – wise and warm mother-earth – so I listened intently. I remember her stark warning: “Never rush a child.” She talked about the importance of going at the pace of the child. I cringed inside – as a mother of two small girls, I constantly felt time poor and impatient and I had been doing a lot of rushing. I resolved to do better and quickly saw the benefits.
I have often thought of her words in teaching situations, in school or at home. How easy it is to show, to tell, to lead, to instruct, to intervene… in other words, to take over. How much more instructive for a child to discover for themselves, their way, in their time, by learning from mistakes. How much more instructive for us as teachers to see how the child’s mind is working, how they are constructing meaning.
It is often not possible in a busy classroom of 30+ students or when we are rushing around at home to give children space and time. But whenever possible, do not rush a child. Ask a question, pose a challenge and leave time for the journey towards an answer. Better still, give them time and space to formulate their own questions and set themselves challenges. Children who are given opportunities to find their own way will be more resilient and more employable, and they will also be happier people.