Below is a project reflection from ‘Two Year Olds With Tools’, a pedagogical book that tells the story of a project that asked us to reconsider the way we view young children in terms of risk, trust and capabilities. As the project unfolded, it became apparent that the children wanted to show us so much more.
“What am I getting myself into?” I asked when I embarked on tool use with two year old’s.
I had used tools with preschool aged children, I was so controlled and structured about using them that I felt confident with the procedures we had in place. I was challenged when the hand drills just weren’t enough to make holes and it led us to use our first mechanical tool, the drill. Why did I keep going? Why did I want more for the children? Why did I think the children were capable enough to use power tools? Was it my confidence that had improved? I began to think, ‘Just do it, they are more than capable’.
When reviewing our philosophy for some reason ‘Trust’ stood out to me this year. Why? Was I trusting children enough? Was I providing them good opportunities to be trusted? Are two year old’s trusted as much as our older children?
I got such a thrill using the tools with the children but deep down inside I felt nervous. What if I mess up? What if they get injured? How many parents will object to this due to the newness of our relationships? Why did I think January was a good time to bring out a saw, hot glue gun and staple gun with two year old’s?!
Obviously, we were fine. Best of all, no one has been seriously injured to date. Sure, we have had some grazes, splitters and bruises but nothing a cuddle and some first aid could not fix! I found that working with tools developed my relationships with the children in such a different way than before. Children who I had struggled to develop a relationship with grew so easily when using the tools. Could this be because it was time to work one on one with a child? I found I was learning more about them each time I worked with them, whether it was them sharing with me or me noticing things I hadn’t before. Could it also have been how physically close we were to one another? Using the tools together requires our bodies to be close. The closeness makes for ease of use but also keeps us safe. Do they trust more because they can actually feel my calm energy? Do I trust them for the same reason?
Trust is built through relationship. I knew the children I could trust whole heartedly and which needed guidance each time they visited. It was not that I did not trust them, it was that I had become so familiar with their behaviour that I knew they just needed a little reminder each time.
Through trust we built connection. Children I had trouble finding a deep connection with were all of a sudden running to me at that gate to great me each day. I am truly amazed by the relationships that have been strengthened through our work with tools.
Loader and Christie (2017) believe that when children’s capabilities are truly trusted that respect becomes innate and the unique personalities and rights of children are deliberately honoured. When I read this I think of the shift in my trust and respect for two year old’s.
This project is about so much more than just tools! It has challenged people’s thinking’s about being two. It is proof that when trusted and empowered, two year old’s can really do anything!
If you are interested in reading more about the project, the book, ‘Two Year Olds with Tools’ is availableto purchase through the Explore & Develop Annandale Facebook page or send an email to email@example.com