Contributed by Sarah Wilcox, Operations Manager for Wonderschool
Empowerment: What does this look like in practice, and how do we empower children and our team of Educators?
It’s an excellent question, and one that we reflect on deeply. For us at Wonderschool, it is about recognising that everyone is an individual and knowing that there are multiple ways to support children and Educators. This can sometimes be challenging, particularly if you have not built up a relationship, or find it challenging to connect with that person. To empower someone, regardless of where they are a child or an adult, you need to spend time with them to know what approaches will work, and listen and observe their needs.
Forbes has come up with a list of 10 ways to empower people in their workplace, and really this is not too dissimilar from the way we empower children and our Educators.
In my own words, this is how we empower children and adults:
- Give people generous boundaries. Allow flexibility and the room for movement but stay firm on the boundaries.
- Listen intently. Be present and pay attention to what the person is saying. I would add to this and say observe intently.
- Believe in the person. Have faith and try to build up a connection. Don’t pass judgement, and have an open mind.
- Forgive mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, and if you can teach children and adults to learn from them, that is helping to empower them.
- Provide growth paths. I prefer to look at this as setting people up for success. Provide support, encouragement and opportunities.
- Praise efforts. It is not always about the result; it is the effort they put into it.
- Ask powerful questions. Try to allow the space for children and adults to think creatively and reflect. Ask open-ended questions and try not to be too rule focused.
- Earn trust. Simple as that. Be realistic and honest.
- Give people time. Time to learn, time to reflect and time to be.
- Put your ego aside. It is easy as adults to want to be in control. Talk less, listen more.
It’s easy to see the benefits of empowering adults, but what about children? What we get to see every day through empowering children is the increase in their self-esteem, their willingness to learn, their resilience develop, their confidence in making better choices and their respect for others. If we can continue to embed this in our approaches in our work with children, I think this is a pretty good start to understanding our values.
We recognise individuals and support them to thrive and strive.