It was snack time and there is no way around having the kids wait in line to get their hands washed or wait at the table for everyone to sit down so snack can begin. I was chatting with the teacher near the sink when our attention shifted to a girl at the end of the line. She was looking up at the wall and counting. But this was not the typical, rote counting that children often do. Her counting was paced. 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . – there was a pattern to the space between the numerals. I followed her gaze and saw a clock on the wall. I watched the clock as I listened to her count and realized that she was naming the numerals as the red second-hand hit them. She did this all the way from 1 to 12 and then began again (it was a long line). I turned to the teacher and said, “Well I guess you know she can identify some numerals (one of the items on our developmental assessment).”
We talk so much about children who do not know what to do with free time, complaining that children are over scheduled and have lost the ability to dream and wonder. Where do we provide that time in our classrooms? Where do we model that in our own lives? I just finished writing a reflection about waiting for church. I wrote about my ability to make use of every moment, even those unexpected wait times, by filling up the space with reading or writing. What if I didn’t have a book or paper? What if I let my eyes and mind wander? What might I see? What might I learn? What might I hear?