This week, we asked our teachers in Toddler House to share their favorite stories that illustrate those moments of joyful discovery when an idea clicks for a student, the mental light bulb switches on, and the “aha!” epiphany brings new life to learning.
The toddler classroom is a beautiful, welcoming home away from home. A visit there on any day is filled with very busy and engaged children working together and working individually. Everything is new and exciting to the one-and two-year olds: pouring water for snack, putting on a coat, helping a friend, and laying out a rug for work. The children are thrilled to be able to do so much for themselves in an environment that is made just for them. Often, you will see children moving the toddler-sized chairs from place to place, simply because they are so thrilled that they can.
In the midst of all this are three very busy teachers, helping, leading, and modeling. The days are filled with dozens of “aha moments” of little ones discovering new skills, trying new works, and using new words. (Naturally, because of the age range, there are many aha moments pertaining to toilet training. We leave those to your imagination!) As we passed through the other day, Sarah Halkiotis and Lyn Shaughnessy shared a few notable moments with us.
Yesterday the children were painting and started experimenting and mixing paint. One boy mixed blue and yellow together and discovered that it made a new color—GREEN! This was a huge aha moment for him and also for the boys and girls around him.
We have just introduced the sandpaper letters in Toddler. Though some of the little ones are too young to recognize the names of the letters, they can see the shape drawn in the sand and see that it looks just like the shape of the sandpaper letter next to it. You can see in their faces that they are excited when they begin to recognize that the shapes are the same.
And just today, while we were having snack, a boy asked “Who made these banana muffins? They are delicious.” I told him to think about who made those this morning. He looked at me with big eyes, full of awe, and said “Oh, I did.”
This morning it was exciting to see a small group of toddlers all working together so cooperatively on a big floor puzzle—and then to see them jump up and down and cheer because they finished it! We love hearing kids exclaim, “I did it!” when they finish a work all by themselves.
I love watching the older toddlers helping the younger ones. After they’ve been here for a while, they’ll walk over and get a tissue if someone needs one. The older ones will often go fetch a diaper from a younger one’s cubby for them. They don’t need to be asked, they just sense when a younger one needs something. They have learned how our community works and want to be part of helping.
[This post originally appeared in Rhythm & News, the Inly School newsletter, on February 20, 2009.]