This week in her fascinating post at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a watcher.
From the moment of birth children are watchers, learning from their observations of the world around them – objects, people, actions, interactions. The adage “Do what I say, not what I do” holds little significance for young children. They may do what you say, but they are more likely to mirror what you do. For this reason, it is important to model the behaviours you wish children to emulate; for example, kindness, patience, empathy, truthfulness, tolerance, understanding. You need to be the type of human being you wish them to be. Example is a powerful teacher.
Watching is also important to teachers, especially early childhood teachers who spend a lot of time observing children to discover more about their learning needs. Learning in this sense is not confined to the academic. It involves regard for the whole person, especially social-emotional development. So much of what we learn about getting along with others is learned in the early years. While the teachers are watching the children, the children are watching them.
But children’s observations are not confined to the home or classroom. They are constantly watching the behaviour of others, learning about interactions and what is, and is not, acceptable. The responsibility for developing the kind of world citizens we want lies not solely with parents and teachers. We must all be mindful of the influence our actions may have upon the expanding world knowledge of those around us. That’s not to say we should be perfect. (Thank goodness, or I’d have been shot long ago!) We just need to be aware that little eyes (and big eyes) are watching and learning.
The way new situations are approached can vary according to personality as much as to the behaviour that has been observed in similar circumstances. Sometimes the expectation seems to be that, if children are put with a whole bunch of other kids their age, they will make friends easily. But that is no more likely than if a bunch of people my age were thrown together. Some of us are outgoing and feel comfortable talking with unknown others. Some like to observe for a while to determine an approach with which we may feel more comfortable. Some require support to venture into unknown territory.
For my response to Charli’s prompt, I have written about a little one, hurt in the past and now facing a new situation, hesitant to make the first move. When children are taught to be accepting of and friendly towards others, reluctance can turn into confidence. I hope it works.
He stood at the periphery, silently observing, calculating their disposition, weighing his chances. Were they friend or foe? Appearances could be deceiving, as could his gut reaction.
They seemed harmless enough; but his sweaty palms, throbbing temples, and churning belly turned his legs to jelly. Even breathing was a struggle.
He became aware of someone tugging his shirt. Though unsure if she was talking or mouthing, he understood, “Would you like to play?”
His head would neither nod nor shake, but she led him by the hand anyway.
“Hey, everyone! This is Amir,” she announced.
“Hi Amir!” they chorused.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.