Short Term, Long Term
Thoughts & Reflections
At Baan Dek, we have posters on the walls with lovely quotes. They’re at adult-height, and these words remind us about our intention for being here — to Help the children. As we’ve noted previously, “help” isn’t always helpful. Though it so often comes from a good place, a place of love and care, it doesn’t necessarily pave the way toward independence, or create a sense of “I Can” in a child.
The universe can be rather serendipitous. Or perhaps it was just the universality of Maria Montessori’s words. We’ll look up, and the words right in front of us, are exactly what we needed to hear at precisely this moment. We’ll put our hands in our pockets, or actively change our language, whatever is required so better serve this child in this moment.
We’ve had conversations around a particular quote several times, with families and as a team. Here it is.
“As soon as independence has been reached, the adult who keeps on helping becomes an obstacle…”
Oh. This one can be humbling and inspiring. That we could be an obstacle, oh my. We think about the times we say in our minds, but I’m trying to HELP you. Help isn’t always helpful, help isn’t always helpful, help isn’t always helpful. What is our goal? Are our words and actions in line with that?
Families and educators alike, we are working to help children develop independence. Walking is independence with movement, reading is independence in learning, it’s a long way from moving out and life apart from the family you grew up in, thankfully, but we’re getting there, step by step, and we all have a role to play.
In the moment, it is dramatically easier to “help.” To zip up the coat, to carry in the lunchbox, to do things For, rather than leaving space and time and perhaps a bit of discomfort for the learning to happen.
But this help is looking at this moment, at getting out the door, at preventing our own irritation at how long this is taking, at the short term. And what is the goal? Moving toward independence. Incrementally, slowly, sometimes without even noticing, but independence, nonetheless.
The long term is where the payoff lies. Like fine wine, or planting a garden, or a retirement account, good things take a while. But we cannot neglect the now and expect the then to happen. We keep the temperature consistent, we water the garden, we make contributions without fail. And we wait. We don’t dig in the soil and try to pull a sprout from the seed. We don’t pop open a bottle of wine or pour it out because it looks like nothing’s happening. We don’t stop contributing because we’ll never be able to retire at this point. Those things sound silly. Viewed in this light, so does unnecessary help. Oh, how we have, with good intentions and overflowing hearts, prevented learning, not really helped much at all.
We work to find this balance. This support, not overbearing, this space, not neglect. We give as much as is necessary, as little as possible. We believe and encourage. Today might be better than yesterday, though maybe not, but today will certainly pave the way for tomorrow. We know what is happening below the surface, trusting that these things will come together in a beautiful, meaningful way, and then that will be the new reality, the independence with dressing, or with walking, or with packing a lunch. It’s keeping company, this long-term investment. Is there a more beautiful balance?
Written by:Charlotte Wood