SOL: Splashing Around to Learn  

There is nothing like watching a toddler explore. Today I got that gift.


Laughter and joy bubble up at every turn. The desire to reach out and test limits is a toddler’s natural state of being. Loving hands, who know this child, anticipate trouble before it happens and gently guide him away from negative possibilities and toward accessible adventures.

It’s marvelous to watch the world through the eyes of a toddler. One can’t help but smile and follow along.

When I had little ones to watch over, each step was documented and cheered. I saw them as their mom.

Today, I watched through teacher’s eyes.


Desire to learn is apparent indicated by swift movement toward the tank. Scaffolded by his mother’s boost and support enabling him to reach the water without falling in he tentatively touched the water after demonstration.  Guided learning was followed by independent practice made possible by access to a spot with a lower wall. He approximated the work by splashing in the water. Practice was done in proximity of other learners. After watching proficient touch tank behavior, he returned to independent practice splashing water. Had stamina. Upset when invited to move on to another activity.

Next steps:  more hands on activities with ample opportunites to practice with other learners

What a toddler can do is visible. Frustration and joy are apparent.  We know what they can do. We show the next step. We do it together, sometimes with a guiding hand. Models of how to are everywhere. The desire to assist and take in learning is as natural as breathing.

When a child enters school, they are there to learn, but how they engage can shift from demonstration-experience towards one with limits.  The space to explore diminishes. Choice shrinks. Things become departmentalized. The conditions that promoted learning are compromised.

Tomorrow, I get on a plane to Boston to participate in Jan Burkins’ and Kim Yaris’ ILA pre-conference session that celebrates their new book Who’s Doing the Work. Reading this book and preparing for the seminar has been an incredible study in what teaching reading can look like when we offer up more opportunities for kids to do the work of reading with ample agency and choice.

Here’s to getting wet, splashing around and learning joyfully.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays. A place to share our lives and our learning. Read more slices here.