Inspiring and Preserving Initiative

As young children develop imagination and creativity, they also are acquiring a sense of what psychologists call “initiative,” the fundamental belief that they can come up with good ideas.  Unfortunately, their initial efforts can be far from perfect, and in early education programs where the emphasis is on getting it “right,” that sense of initiative can be easily crushed.

Let’s say a little girl draws a picture of a giraffe, and her giraffe happens to be purple and only has three legs.  An instructor asks, “What is that?”  The child responds, “It’s a giraffe!”  The instructor says, “Giraffes aren’t purple, they’re yellow.  And it only has three legs.  That’s wrong.  Get out of the way.  I’ll show you how to do it.”  That child eventually will become someone who will simply “follow the directions” because she will believe that whatever she does on her own will be bad.

Another instructor – a Romp n’ Roll instructor, for instance – asks, “What is that?”  The child responds, “It’s a giraffe!”  That instructor says, “Really?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a purple giraffe.  Tell me about him.  And I see he only has three legs.  How does he run along with the herd if he only has three legs?”

There is no doubt that young children need correction and guidance.  However, at Romp n’ Roll, where instructors understand the psychological as well as educational needs of young children, correction and guidance is effectively provided in such a way that still inspires and preserves that critically important spirit of initiative.