That Time When a Little Frustration Was a Good Thing

“Teacher Cindy, can you help us move this?”  The wheelbarrow was full of sand.  It would not budge. This was a problem.

This was one of those times when I knew that the answer “no” was the best answer because that would allow the most opportunity for learning.  So I answered “no.” and expressed my belief in them that they could work together to move the wheelbarrow.


And very soon they started on solution number one: they scooped a pan full of sand out of the wheelbarrow and carried it separately to the “market” which was where they apparently needed to take the sand.

This helped and they were able to move the wheelbarrow closer to their goal but it was still too heavy.

“Teacher Cindy can you help us move this?”  they asked again.

My reply?  “I notice you have been working together and have moved it closer.  You took some of the sand out and moved it separately.  What else could you do?”

Still they were stumped.  I brought out a loose board.  I put it down near to where they were working.  “I wonder if you can use this to help you move the wheelbarrow?” I asked them.

And then came solution number two: S had an idea, soon J and D caught on.  They placed the boards to form a ramp and up the ramp went the wheelbarrow.

There was lots of cheering when they had success.  S raised her arms above her head. Yay!


The wheelbarrow of sand was succesfully transported to the market.

Sometimes it helps to step back a little and allow the problems to be frustrating for awhile.  This is when children have the opportunity to learn something more meaningful, to solve problems and develop self confidence.  


“Frustration, although quite painful at times, is a very positive and essential part of success.” -Bo Bennett


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