The Wisdom in Allowing for Body Wisdom

You know, I’ve been in early education now for over two decades…seriously, some of my first children are now 23 and 24! They could be parents themselves!! That’s a little…startling.

And while I’m no longer in direct touch with most of the children I cared for in group care, I keep tabs on a couple of those special humans (artists, musicians, athletes, caregivers…). And I’m still loosely in touch with many of my first RIE families…Facebook is a great way to see what families are up to, and a recent video caught my eye…​check out this 9-year-old on his skateboard​.

And if that doesn’t impress you, ​check him out 8 years ago​

I don’t know about you, but I trip just looking at a skateboard. That’s not the case with this child’s family…skateboarding is an important piece of their family culture, so it’s not altogether surprising to know that he learned early (and learned well), but what may be surprising is how he learned.

As you can see and hear in the video, no one put him on a skateboard. He was given ample time and space (and encouragement!) to figure his own way onto it. And while his Mom demonstrated how to move it, she didn’t move him. And what I think is also remarkable is that she didn’t seem to rush him into that next phase/step…she knew he’d get there in his own time and way.

His Mom cringes a little about the video, noting that her ‘interruptions’ pulled him away from his experience. But hey, there were a LOT of things going on that night!! They came to my RIE class before he could even crawl and that is where she learned to let him figure out how to move in his own time and way. Before the skateboard, there was a chair. I’ll let her tell you the story:

“There was a time when he was first crawling and I kept myself from ‘rescuing’ him when he crawled under a chair and was confused and didn’t know how to get it out…I came close. I said “I see there’s an opening here.” He made it out on his own and was experiencing complete joy and confidence at having everything he needs to make it through obstacles.”

She continues, “I would’ve robbed him of this unknowingly if I hadn’t learned RIE. It’s so valuable…the look on his face when he made it out of the chair ‘obstacle’ was something I don’t want any child to ever miss.”

There’s so much to unpack in the simple act of letting a child find their own way out from under a chair (or onto a skateboard). There’s the body wisdom they get from fully understanding how it moves in space. There’s the sense of accomplishment they may feel…and the pride and astonishment you may feel. There’s the opportunity for them to learn that they have the ability to figure things out for themselves…and for you to learn the same about them! And there’s the sense they get knowing you’re there to watch and guide them, but that you also believe in them and their abilities.

And who wouldn’t want all of that from a partner?