For the infant and toddler age group, tamariki are still ‘learning how to learn’. It is important that during this crucial stage that they are supported and empowered by trusted adults to experiment, test their ideas and develop their own unique style of learning. Empowerment is one of the underpinning principles of our early childhood curriculum, but what does it look like in action? A key part of empowerment is supporting tamariki to have “I did it” moments where they can feel the achievement of doing something themselves. It is being there for them through their struggles, not making sure they never struggle. It is being a place of comfort that says “I’m here for you, try again when you’re ready”. Empowerment is leaving space for children to direct their own learning, to make mistakes and to develop strategies for what to do next time.It can be tempting as an adult to want to remove obstacles from tamariki, it feels nicer watching the successes than it does to see children experience challenges. Empowering tamariki means they can develop a sense of themselves as capable and resilient. It allows them to understand that things don’t always go to plan and what to do when this happens. At Kinderen we empower children from a base of caring and responsive relationships. We help them to get through the tough bits of life with kind words and a shoulder to cry on, rather than steering them away from the difficulty. We talk out loud to help tamariki to label and respond to their big emotions – “You were trying to climb on the plank and you fell, that hurts”. We acknowledge efforts- “Thank you for stopping your bike to let your friend pass, that was kind”. And we let them try again, even if it is frustrating and takes a long time. This all helps tamariki to become more resilient in the long run and to have a strong sense of who they are and how they learn.Here are some pictures of our tamariki confidently moving through our environment with the attitude that they CAN do it. Free to explore, assess risks and to try things on their own.