It was a cold wintery day. My classroom was busy. Except for a 4-year old. She had refused to be part of the class since she first joined us. Not a word would she utter, not a smile would she share. She whimpered occasionally, sitting alone by the window. That, all but broke my heart. All my efforts to draw her in, lay in shambles. My records of her development were sadly, limited. But I waited.
And then one day she let out a cry: “ Yaaay! It's snowing! It's snowing!” Ecstatic, hands clasped at her chest, she was looking at the wondrous display of nature, as the snow came down softly. What I couldn’t do, the artistry of nature had done. The dam was broken and out poured all the beauty of human development.
Learning has mysterious ways to seduce the mind. The five senses we possess are the carriers of information and each of them remains in a state of alert for conveying messages that help create neural pathways. Even mere observation, be it passive or active, produces data. There are triggers that then put this data to use. However, development cannot be enforced externally. The Aha! moment in the child’s life has to arrive and activate the senses into action.
Now the little recluse in my class suddenly began to reach out for work; began to communicate. Clearly in her moments of self-imposed isolation she had also been observing. After overcoming her anxiety and developing confidence in the environment, she was drawing from her inner database to get into action. I did not have to do anything. I remained a facilitator.
Generally speaking all children maybe alike, yet no two children are the same.
The point that is worthy of reflection is that all children are made unique. Not only do they look and behave differently, but they also think and process things differently. And if they are different, then shouldn't our approach to their growth also be different?
To expect every child to conform to the exact same developmental pathway as the other, is not very fair to the child. Children use different pathways to reach their goals. If there are no 'red flags' in their developmental milestones then they begin building their skills, efficiently.
Obsessing over why a child is not performing the way another child can, is an exercise in futility. It is easy for an adult to intervene, trying to rush the process of learning, but the result of this forced exercise would perhaps produce an apathetic, weary learner.
Think about it!