Probably the best advice I’ve ever been given is to talk less and focus more on listening. I mean listening intentionally with the desire to gain a deeper understanding of others. I find this advice helpful for life in general.
As an early childhood educator I focus on listening, keeping quiet and observing closely and this has helped tremendously when it comes to supporting and facilitating play.
I recently noticed a couple of children playing under the table. This was a table where I had set out grocery store items so that the children could play ‘store’. I could have stopped them to ask them what kind of game they were playing. I could have stopped them to tell them not to play under the table. I could have stopped them because they were harder to supervise and see in their location under the table. But I didn’t. I decided to observe (at a distance), listen, and find out what they were playing.
Heres what I noticed…
They were engaged.
They had a purpose.
They were cooperating.
Later that morning I asked them about the game. They told me it was called the “money boat” game. When I asked how to play they explained “we get money, we get in our boat, and we deliver it all over the world to the people who need it”.
Just look at what I could have been interrupting!
I must say, I’m so glad I’ve learned to “listen with my eyes”.
I will end with this final thought. Childhood is so short. Let them play! Support play, encourage play and do your best to just let it happen. Find ways to avoid interrupting; they are only children for so long. When you support play, you support learning!