Joshua grips on to a pull up bar, where below a pile of tires are stacked on top of another. The tires serve as a step to reach the bar. There are two bars beside each other, one higher then the other. Joshua asks for my assistance so that he can perch himself safely on top. Joshua has figured out a way to walk his legs up a wooden post, (which supports the pull up bar) and using this leverage is able to wrap his legs around the bar, until I spin him around to where he can then sit on top. Whenever assisting youth with physical challenges, I am careful not to do the work, which they are fully capable of figuring out for them selves.
This particular physical challenge however, involves a extra step beyond and a guiding hand is needed to fulfill the goal. Sara, one of Joshua’s preschool classmates, attempts to squeeze in to a tight space, also wanting to try it out. Joshua is quick to comment that the bar he is using is for boys and that the other bar is for girls. I ask him why this is so – and there is a dead silence among us. Loud enough for both of them to hear, I comment that these bars are actually for everyone to use.
Exploration of gender is usually just beginning around age four. From listening to preschooler’s interactions with each other the topic of gender demarcation often occurs within the dynamic of play. It is often conflicting but a necessary part of developing an understanding of gender. And our duty as thought provoking and compassionate adults, is to challenge any gender stereotypes that may arise, at whatever age.
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