Counting on Kids

Posted by Ruth

Bree smiled proudly at me today and said, “I can count to one.” My brain started churning. “I know Bree counts higher than that. And why is she proud of being able to count to 1? Is she going to say, ‘One,’ and think it’s funny?” I looked at her expectantly waiting to hear.
“Five, four, three, two, one!” she said triumphantly.
“Ah, you counted backwards. That’s a count down.” She had indeed “counted to one!”
A counting story from Head Start teacher Kelly Petrin

This story reminds me how often we underestimate what children can do. Sometimes when I’m puzzled by what a child is telling me, I rush in too quickly, with, “Oh, do you really mean. . .?” Or, “Let’s try. . .” When I have the presence to take a breath, wait, and ask them to tell me more, I get wonderful surprises, like Kelly did with Bree. You can count on kids to know a lot more than you think they do–and they’re also able to get more out of some of the more complex books than we imagine.

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