At Tumbleweed, we feel that it is so important that the children are confident in themselves, how they feel, and what they can do. Creating an environment where the children can gain confidence in themselves involves allowing them to feel safe to express their emotions, advocate for themselves and others, lead or follow in group settings, explore and test emotions through play and peer interactions, and the independence to try tasks on their own.
Allowing children to acknowledge and express their emotions is necessary in building emotional awareness. The kind of language that we use when recognizing the children’s emotions is very important. We often start of sentences with “I notice…” (such as “I notice you are feeling upset because someone took your spot.”) and that allows the children to focus on why they are feeling the way they are. If we see that they are acting out their feelings in a way that is not safe to themselves or to others, we will redirect them to a safer outlet of expression.
Advocate for Themselves and Others
Advocacy and being able to express what one needs or wants is something we cultivate at Tumbleweed. We often remind the children that it is perfectly acceptable to ask for space when they are feeling upset or just need to be alone. If a child hurts another child, we give them the opportunity to talk it through and see what can be done to make the situation better. Usually that involves asking what the hurt child needs, such as space or a hug, then we talk about why that happened and what the child was feeling at the moment they chose to hit or push, etc. Reflecting on what they did and seeing how it upset someone allows them to develop empathy for their peers.
Peer interactions allow children to see how their actions can affect others. Children often also look to their peers to gauge how they should react to situations. When working in groups, children often have the choice of whether they want to take control and lead, or if they want to join in and follow. Each child has a chance to take on a different role, and practicing both gives them the opportunity to interact with one another in different ways. When children are able to problem-solve and come up with ideas without the help of an adult, it allows them to feel more confident in themselves and their actions.
Self-Help TasksWhen the children are faced with basic tasks throughout the day, we encourage them to try to accomplish them without the help of a teacher. This could be as simple as taking off their own pants or helping out in the kitchen. The children work on going to the bathroom on their own, washing their hands, setting up meals, putting on their shoes and jackets, setting out mats for nap time, and so on. When children feel that they are capable and trusted to do things on their own, they feel more confident that they can do anything without help.