Last week, I observed the preschoolers do a lot of amazing things. The one that stuck with me the most, the one that really made it clear why we do the things we do at Tumbleweed, was a moment during clean up time. The preschoolers had moved most of the wood up to the play structure. They made a bucket brigade to transport the wood down from the play structure and over to the wood shelf. TS was in the middle of the ladder. Most of the wood seemed manageable in size and weight. Then I noticed a really heavy looking piece of destroyed table. I watched in disbelief as they handed it down to her. Briana was close by but didn't move a muscle. TS unsteadily grabbed a hold of the wood and then regained her balance. She slowly climbed down the ladder and confidently walked it to the wood shelf. On her way back to the play structure, she grinned at another child and said "Did you see that? I'm strong!"
This moment was full of surprises for me. I was surprised that TS had attempted such a feat. I was surprised that she was able to grab ahold of the huge piece of wood. I was surprised that she didn't get hurt. But TS wasn't surprised at all. She was proud, certainly, but not surprised.
I feel very fortunate to be part of a program that enables children to trust themselves physically and emotionally. When they take an appropriate risk, they are allowed to discover the natural consequence. Tumbleweed children know their limits and internalize success. They don't need us to tell them that they are strong or bright or amazing, they see it for themselves every day.