Improving my Teaching Practice · SLOW DOWN: Quality Time with Children

THINK…before interupting a child at play

Advocate for Infants - sharing knowledge about working with infants and toddlers

“If someone were to walk in on a scientist on the verge of discovering the secrets of the universe, would it occur to that person to interrupt with an inconsequential comment about the weather, or the new shoes she just bought? No, the scientist is doing very important research; and if interruption were necessary, an appropriate opening would be found.” Magda Gerber

The other day I was out on the playground and a child was running by me. She stopped and was looking around. For some reason I decided right then was a good time to tell her that I liked her dress. After I said it, I literary wanted to hit myself on the forehead. I thought to myself, why did you just do that? I got no response from the child and she glanced at me with a look of slight confusion.

I’ve been thinking about this specific moment a lot, because it’s a moment where I’ve actually been aware of a pointless interruption I caused. I know this happens a LOT but I don’t always catch myself. Did my pointless comment distract this child from her play? Did it cause her to forget what her plan was? Reflecting on it now, I feel that my comment was more detrimental than beneficial. Did that child really care that I like her dress? So why did I feel the need to say it?! This is the question I ask myself every time I think of this moment….WHY????!!!!!!

Play is a child’s work. This is how they discover the world, figure out complex processes and make sense of what happens around them. We need to treat children as scientists on the verge of discovering the secrets of the universe, because aren’t they? They are always discovering how to be part of the world around them. This is an important job and it’s not an easy one. We need to respect the work (play) that children engage in and be intentional about how, what and when we interrupt a child who is busy at work. Who knows what important discovery we could be interrupting?



Gerber, Magda, edited by Joan Weaver. Dear parents: Caring for infants with respect. 2nd/Expanded Edition ed. Los Angeles: Recourses for Infant Educarers, 2002. Print.

6 thoughts on “THINK…before interupting a child at play

  1. Where is the “love” button? This is one of my favorite posts so far and I love the graphic you created. It’s a perfect piece to print large and put somewhere visible, like the door to your classroom.
    Waiting, thinking, respecting. All things you embody each day in life with our children.


    1. Thank you!! Right, very powerful! I really love that quote. Magda’s work is so inspiring and in her books she has the most powerful examples and questions. She knows what to say/ask to get you really thinking. Thank you so much 🙂 I’m so glad you’re enjoying it. I’m enjoying your blog just as much, if not more!


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