Here is the perspective of Kari Aube, teacher of young children at the Addison County Parent Child Center:
It can be tricky navigating a group of children from one space to another, especially when you have a mixture of needs, abilities, and levels of confidence. We teachers now know these kids – some need to hold a hand until they feel safe and are more confident in the space. Then there are the kiddos that need to race ahead, and the ones who fall in between. How do we balance this, especially when walking with a small group on your own?
On our walk to the path that leads us to the Wiggly Bridge, we have to hold hands at first for safety while we cross the school’s back parking lot. We talk about this expectation to hold a teacher or partner’s hand before we leave the play yard. But, as soon as we get to the hill, we can let go of hands so children can go at their own pace. Our first “stopping spot” – where we’ll stop and wait for everyone to regroup – is at the bottom of the hill on the gravel path. There we have a quick meeting about where the next “stopping spot” is. I regularly check in and say “who can see me?” as a subtle reminder. This gives them the opportunity to be in “charge” and allows them to feel like they are risk-taking by being ahead of me.
These kids really know their stuff now as we are about to move into summer. They recognize where our usual stopping spots are and help each other remember they need to wait there for me or another teacher.
Of course, we did not get to this overnight. We have spent time coming to these spaces, learning the “limits,” and developing a relationship with these spaces. It is amazing to see kids support each other, teach the new kids the “ropes” and also have the ability to feel confident in nature.