When What Goes Up, Doesn’t Come Down!

During the nutrition breaks, our students go outside with another Kindergarten class. Many of the students from both classes love to climb on the play structure. They don’t just climb up the stairs. They climb on top of the slide, they climb on the wooden structure next to the slide, and they even climb on top of the railings and slide down the side of the play structure. The students are incredibly careful, and at least one of the educators out there, is supervising the playground area so that we can watch this climbing and support the students when necessary. The children also support each other.

This Is Just An Example Of Some Of The Climbing That Happens Outside

This morning, one of the children in the other Kindergarten class decided to climb on top of the play structure. Another student told him how to do so and how to get off safely. He really wanted to do this, and he carefully lifted himself up. Once he was up though, he froze. While he knew how to get down, he was scared to do so, and he shouted down for help. I was at the bottom of the play structure, and I initially spoke to him about how he could get off. Another child tried to take him through the steps as well. He wasn’t moving though.

One of the Kindergarten educators from the other class, came up and asked him if he could get down. He said that he was really scared and wasn’t sure. She was so soothing with him. She spoke to him calmly. She reminded him to breathe slowly and hold on, and she said that she was coming up. She then climbed up onto the play structure and helped him get down. 

I thought that we were finished then, but five minutes later, he was back on the play structure and shouted down to me that he wanted to climb back up on top. What?! I reminded him that he found it hard to get down the last time. I asked him if he was really ready to try again. I was actually about to stop the climbing, when the person that helped him get down moments before, said to him, “Do you remember how to get down now?” He nodded, “Yes.” She then talked him through the process, and he did it!

Not only did he do it then, but in the afternoon, he talked me through the process as he showed me what he could do now. He was so proud of himself! I think now about what would have happened if I stopped him from climbing again. 

  • Would I make him doubt himself and his abilities?
  • Would I make him question the value in taking risks in other areas?
  • Would I further perpetuate his fears?

I can’t help but think about what the other educator did. Not only did she initially empathize with the child when he was scared, and use her tone, words, and actions to calm him down, but she also shared in his excitement and supported him enough to work past his fears. She believed in him, and he ended up believing in himself. Has something like this happened to you before? What did you end up learning from this experience? I would love to hear your stories!


As part of my final project for Foundations 4, I am blogging about topics related to the four Foundations courses. While this post doesn’t use the terminology, there are links to the Pro-Social Domain (and empathy) and co-regulation. I hope that these blog posts provoke more conversations around these important topics.

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