old wooden chair

A Week in a Big Chair

A father once came to observe his son who had very recently entered the classroom. The child was very shy and introverted, almost painfully so. For the first week, the boy would come in with his head hanging very low almost in tears. When approached for a lesson, the boy would simply shake his head “no” and walk over to the classroom’s observation chair that was placed in the corner of the room at the time. I was fully aware, that in due time, this child was going to come out of his shell – as I knew the building of this child’s character would be his own achievement and not mine nor his father’s.

old wooden chairThe father came another day – this time I joined him in the observation window to have a chat about what he was watching. The father was distraught. “It’s like no one even cares”, he said.   In this father’s eyes, his son was being undernourished and neglected –also that he was not learning.

All I could do was to assure the father that this behavior will change and cannot be forced. I could not quite explain to this man that his child was absorbing a completely new physical and social environment – that his son was not just a lost helpless unloved child sitting in a big chair. What I really knew was that this child was experiencing a new chapter abundant with new sights, sounds, tastes and smells that were going to set his dormant soul on fire and bring to surface a new alive, unafraid human being – a child.

The boy was passively observing. This was his way of taking in this strange new exciting world, making sense of it all then finally, trusting it. I knew that the time in that chair was a valuable and precious time for the boy.

I was aware of the power that this boy held that sadly; many adults are unable to grasp – The Absorbent Mind. I knew that the Absorbent Mind of a child is limitless and that it was working the entire morning – in the chair or out of it.

What could a mind possibly be absorbing in a chair??

black capped chickadee A child counting to 100 with a friend, the phonetic sounds of the alphabet, the names of the continents, older children helping the younger ones with the buttons on their aprons, a child runs across the room and another politely reminds her to walk in the classroom, children excited about learning the names of the trees from the leaves that they have found outside, children cleaning up the paint from the easel, birds being fed in the back, a spill being mopped up, oranges being squeezed then ingested with a smile while gazing cheerfully at the black capped chickadee that eats seeds from the snack window feeder and a child identifying the bird with excitement!

The boy, after a couple of weeks – on his own, came out of the big chair and began to participate full force! After the day out of the big chair, I really got to know this child – which I knew I would. He was the boy who could not stop talking! He arrived every day with a huge smile and a very long story to start off my day. I gave him his first Sandpaper Letter lesson in which he knew five sounds already!

This particular story is a lesson – a lesson teaching all of us adults who know it all, that all it takes is a little love, patience and an abundance of faith in the child and his underlying potential even if we are unable to see it at first! It is there.

-by Ashley W. Johnson