Let them lead, let us follow - who’s in the driver seat?

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Heart centred teaching asks for us to be humble, focus on the child, and leave our adult agenda at the door. It  ask us to stop ‘doing’ and focus on how we are with the children.

Let them lead, let us follow! Both approaches call on us to really tune in to the children, really making them the teachers and not us.

‘Teaching’ seems a bit of a misnomer when our emphasis is actually on the self driven activity of the learner!   

Humble, the role of service to the child

Humble - a simple yet powerful word to describe how it is we serve the child.  Dr Montessori was adamant adults put themselves in this service role, taking a back seat to the child who is so driven to follow nature’s plan that they don’t need us to intervene.  They need us instead to observe, to prepare the environment, to support and then move out of the way.

When we are humble we are not the ‘superior’, or all knowing.

"Be careful what you teach. It might interfere with what they are learning." -Magda Gerber

Teaching can be an ego driven profession, and a surprising number of ECE teachers are in the role for children to look up to them, love them, and be able to acquire those things that this adult (and only this adult) can offer to them.  

But this is not us.  And it is not what we look for when we are building our tribe, either as team members or our ‘network‘ of like minded people we share, learn and are inspired with.  

We look for humility. When we are humble, we don’t assume we know. We can step back and look objectively.  We are not the one who prescribes what the child should be doing and when.

When we are humble, we are not in the centre or the lead, we take our place behind the child, offering only the guidance they actually need, not barreling in with our adult agendas blazing.  

Let them lead!

The amazing thing is that it is far more rewarding to follow the child than to be in the driver’s seat. The simple truth is that children astonish us if we allow them to.

Being humble allows for this astonishment, where as an adult agenda leaves no space for magic.  

If we set the agenda, the child then either meets our expectations or they don't - there's not a big wow factor involved.

What is truly magical is when we let the child lead, and we see them blossom before our very eyes.

We suddenly see everything ‘click’ into place, and the child knows that they are responsible for this magic, not us.  

Their own path

When we don’t have an endpoint in mind, the child can travel their path.  Their own GPS guides them, and may take them on a course we never imagined, but couldn’t have been better suited. 

When we don’t have a ‘one way’ in mind, we leave the space for creativity that can wow us.  We can then see things we would not have dreamed up for this child, and we see the beauty that is their very own process.  They may have come to an activity differently than we’d ever expect and that is a reason to be excited.

There is no ‘same old’ when children are in charge of their learning

When we allow ourselves to be astonished at the capabilities of children we find we are not just doing a ‘job’, but thoroughly enjoy coming to spend our days with these wonderful people who have so much to teach us.

It is harder to find ourselves burnt out from our teaching profession when there is such joy to be found in the spontaneous actions of children.

We can’t see the spontaneous if we have our own goals in mind. We need the openness to respond to what is, not what we wish could be.  

We absolutely need to not just be willing to learn from children but to be excited at the very prospect!

(This article was adapted from a previously published  blog post 'Follow the child')