In the Classroom: Roadrunners
Roadrunners Gain Independence
by Christel Ürményházi
In the area of self-care, Roadrunner teachers foster children's growing independence by meeting them at their current stage of development and then offering them opportunities to challenge themselves as they gain mastery and confidence.
An example would be a child requesting help with a zipper. We might just latch the bottom together and then encourage them to finish it. Another example would be a child asking us to peel an orange. We’d respond, "Who do you see who has peeled their orange? If you ask, they may show you how to peel yours.” In no time, children are zipping their own coats and peeling their own oranges -- and then each other's. When we break skills down into steps, a child needs little and eventually no assistance. At each little step, children meet with success which builds their sense of accomplishment and pride so they want to continue to challenge themselves.
Making cots is a daily source of accomplishment. While a few RRs are challenging themselves to make as many cots as they can (for others), some children are still learning to find the four seams of their sheet, to match the shorts sides and the long sides and then to stretch them over the corners of their cots. Making their own cots provides children the opportunity for practicing fine motor skills and for recognizing spatial relationships. When children make the effort to articulate their needs (instead of the adults around them anticipating their needs) this builds their language skills.
Roadrunner teachers often encourage children to ask each other for help. Because demonstrating mastery while helping out a friend feels good, children become socialized into a community of people who want to encourage and help each other.
When we hold back the impulse to do things for children, we give them the chance to practice skills and gain independence. We are giving them the message that they are capable of accomplishing their goals without relying on adults.