How do we learn to make choices? Or maybe the question is, do we need to learn to make choices? In school, won’t the teacher tell you what to do?
In a good preschool classroom, young children are practicing choice making skills every day. They are given time, space, and materials to explore. The teacher provides reminders, “It is almost clean up time so if you want to paint, now would be the time.” There are natural consequences for choosing poorly (children won’t play with you if you hit them) but each day begins anew and the choices are there again. This is such an important skill – for school and for life. I look at young people who have had their lives scheduled and programmed. When they find themselves away at camp or college, they don’t know how to make a choice. I think of the phone calls we got, “I am at the store and there are two pair of pants I like.” or “There is a meeting about a study tour and I am thinking of going.” My response? “I can’t wait to hear what you choose.” It might not have been what they wanted to hear but the choice belonged to them. Choices. Ownership. Responsibility. Confidence. It is never too early to start practicing.