Saturday, March 23, 2013

A New (Give and) Take on Sharing

One of my amazing co-op Moms, Jamie, posted this article on sharing on my Facebook page and I quickly realized that since starting the parent co-op at Seedlings I'd lost sight of the way I wanted to handle sharing squabbles amongst the children.  I find a lot of inspiration on Teacher Tom's blog where he clearly describes what sounds to me like an amazingly effective way to handle sharing issues not to mention everything else that could possibly happen in a preschool classroom.

Best intentions aside, having another Mom present during class time poses a unique set of circumstances and I find myself entering 'Mom mode' and exiting 'teacher mode' more often than I'd like to admit.  No matter what anyone says, no matter how tolerant and understanding and patient we all want to be as parents, there is some little voice deep inside of us that tells us our children must act properly at all times when other parents are around.  This voice is seriously misguided and obviously hasn't ever really interacted with children since it's been locked up inside your head for who knows how long.  We should probably all just tell that voice to shut up.

I've noticed over the past five months that the only problems that seem to pop up are between my 3 1/2 yr old and the child of the parent who happens to be there that day.  With only my two children and four other students, two Moms create a lot of problems disguised as solutions, so I decided to test a theory.  Last week, I had one day in which no parents were signed up to work in the classroom so I prepared myself not to speak unless absolutely necessary during the entire class period, which is 2 1/2 hrs long.  Obviously, I would still direct the rhythm of the day ensuring that we would make time for songs, snack, stories, etc., but I would not intervene in any non-dangerous play situation unless I was asked to help by a child.  And so the day began...

My son has certain toys he's not required to share, they are his and he is allowed to decide if he'd like to bring them out during class time to share with his friends or if he'd like to wait until after class to play with them.  Part of this collection of certain toys are a few random cars that we've picked up here and there.  They don't really fit our typical requirements for the type of toys we generally surround ourselves with (more about that in another post), so they reside in a cabinet that is an eclectic mix of recyclable items, goodie bag toys, tins, bags, boxes, strings and other things that children can't get enough of and most parents can't wait to sneak into the trash.

Today, he decided to share the cars.  When I saw them come outside, I was immediately disheartened.  Most times, he will play with these types of toys himself for a while, claiming that he will share them, but when another child shows interest, he changes his mind and decides to put them away. Yes, he has found a loophole in our rule about his toys and though I've tried to think of a way to close it up, I just haven't found one yet.  I told myself to keep quiet and watch.  The first thing he did was hand one of the cars to his friend.

When another friend came over and asked to play, he went inside and got her another car.

They built a road out of blocks, they traded, they said things like, "Can I have the bus now?" and "I'm still using this one."  They took turns driving on the road, they drove on the patio furniture, they drove in the water table.  They drove on the work bench, adding another friend to the mix....yes, that's right, four children, three do the math on that one.

They discovered that the tops of our old spice jars fit perfectly over the school bus tires and they took turns giving the bus new tires and filling the cars with gas.  Eventually, the game was down to two friends with just the school bus.

And they worked it out.

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