Environments play a big part of shaping a child’s identity. Each experience provides new stimuli and interactions that form a child’s perspective of the world.
Children observe their parents everyday actions, such as shopping, washing dishes, doing laundry and they want to imitate these actions.
It is very common the actions we wish our children become competent in later in life are the very ones we say, ‘it’s dangerous, or wait here, or I’ ll do it” Often the internal motivation of the child is snuffed out. We have to be sensitive to a child’s willingness to help or try, because sooner or later they won’t be interested.
Outdoor Mission for this student (pictured below) was a shopping experience. We had real items to purchase, and a real environment to navigate. Children see other adults shopping, and other staff working doing their roles. It’s a different experience than being with their parents, as most kids tag along with parents through the environment, rather than lead the way as an active participator.
Children get briefed on mission rules for example:
– Running in the store is not allowed. – We stay together, or tell me if you want to venture ahead.
Basic rules based on communication and common sense.
We have a mission list. This helps to keep kids on track and following their purpose.
Jam, Bread and Peanut Butter ~ Sorry Kinder surprises weren’t on the list buddy!
Along our expedition through the food isles, we spotted signs that could help direct us on our way around the supermarket. I would bring these to the child’s attention. (Most students can’t read them yet, but the action does get children in the practice of looking for directions and being aware.)
At the end the child uses their own money to pay, and complete the checkout process. Children are left satisfied and usually pretty excited by the whole experience.
Now they finally got the chance to be just like Mum and Dad.
I’ll leave this blog post with some inspiration by one of my favourite pioneers in early years education, Maria Montessori.
“The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.”Maria Montessori