I am a preschooler teacher. I like being silly. This is because preschoolers also like being silly. We make up funny words, we make funny faces, we sing silly songs and we love to laugh. However, I have recently questioned, when does silliness cross the line into teasing? Teasing is very real in a preschooler's life. While we all work toward tease-free environment at Tumbleweeds, it is a topic that does surface and that we are currently processing. What counts at teasing? Why don't we like to be teased? How can we respond when we feel teased? A Berenstien Bears book about teasing generated some conversation. "Some of the teasing doesn't sound mean" EB observed about one part when Brother Bear feels teased. "That's not bad." IR agreed. This allowed us to explore how teasing might sound different to different people. This can be tricky, even for adults, because teasing often manifests itself in the way a person says something, or the context of the situation.
One afternoon I ventured at the lunch table, "What is teasing?" KO replied: "It's when someone says something bad." "Yeah" G confirmed. Still, there seemed to be some confusion on concrete instances of teasing. What is an example from on of our books? I asked. "You old rust bucket." G offered. The preschoolers broke out in laughter. However, as we discussed the example we realized that, in this instance, the teasing was not directed at a person. This was an example of something silly that did not hurt anyone's feelings.
KO then stated: "I hate teasing". At this point I asked each child if s/he wants to be teased and each child said no. Thus, we all agreed that people don't want to be teased. But how do we navigate what is and isn't teasing? The solution ended up being very simple. If someone feels teased we can choose something else to say. We can stop.
As for the silly teasing? KO offered: "Instead of teasing people, we can tease the ghosts!" This became a game where we teased ghosts to keep them away "Booey Chongo!" IR yelled. "You old rust bucket" G added. "Hey ghost, you go away!" IO laughed. The game then progressed into hiding from ghosts and creating special suits that kept us safe from them. Silliness is fun. Teasing isn't. I am glad the preschoolers discovered a way to safely remain silly and lighthearted.
Here are some pictures from fun, silly times over the past few weeks: