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  • Skribentens bildSuzanne Axelsson

The Story of the Toddling Teacher

A toddler is a descriptive name of a period in our lives when we are very young.. to toddle basically means - to move with short and unsteady steps while learning to walk. It could also be applied to learning and play - lots of unsteady steps while in the process of learning.

Of course in play children are not always just learning, they are also competent, and experts at play. In this kind of play they can walk confidently, skip, run and dance.

What educators frequently do is offer young children experiences from their striding perspective - because it is the most effective to get from one place to another. What educators need to be doing is to slow down, look closely, listen deeply and toddle more.

If we shorten our steps we can become more attuned to the children's way of interacting with the world. It will also allow us to develop the connections needed in trusting relationships between adults and young children - the kind Jools Page calls Professional Love.

I find that when I am working with toddlers I naturally slow down more, come down lower and spend more time on the floor/ground and think in a more sensory and proprioceptive manner. My body also opens up much more to be touched, hugged, climbed on and tested, as a part of feeling safe and learning about consent. I realise that I am a toddling teacher, there is even more uncertainty in how I interact because so much of the world is still so new to the children that I am not always sure how the children will react - so teaching with short, but steady, steps while learning about the children and acknowledging the uncertainty as a joy and wonder while choosing to use curiosity as my superpower to be the adult they need me to be in order to interact with the world is what I find is the best strategy.

The Original Learning Approach is about facilitating the learning - this will include teaching, but it also requires time to get to know the children, build genuine relationships with the children, understand the children by observing their play and accept that play is the brain's way to adapt to a complex world. There is a massive need to #slowdown #lookclosely #listendeeply to be able to achieve this. And teachers that toddle with their young learners are much more likely to be effective in this. Effectivity in the early years I think is causing more and more harm, because it is about cramming as much as possible in a small a space as possible (physical, emotional, cognitive, temporal)... what we need to be taking into consideration is affectivity. And the toddling teacher is one approach to affectivity.

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