One day at the Preschool House, I was observing the children during free play and began to notice the language we use become habit for how children enter play and invite others to enter play. More specifically, I noticed them use the phrase "Can I...?" and "Can you...?" many times throughout the day as a way to play with others and gain access to objects.
These are some of the conversations I observed between the preschoolers during free play:
SC was building with some of the large wooden blocks. MR walked over, wanting to use the same blocks.
MR: "After you're done, can I use them?"
SC: "You can help me."
MR: "What are you making?"
SC: "A princess."
MR: "That doesn't look like a princess."
MR and SC continued building with each other for a few more minutes, working together to build a shared creation.
Nearby IR and TS were working near each other with the wooden multi-colored domino blocks.
IR noticed that TS was using the same blocks. She turned to TS and asked, "TS, can I have one more?" TS gave IR one of the blocks. TLC noticed IR working and moved closer to her. He asked, "Can I build with you?" IR replied, "Yes."
There are times when the preschoolers want others to work with them or help them with something.
MR and SC were in the back room working with the baby dolls. SC was snapping a diaper onto one of the dolls and MR was attempting to put a diaper on a doll as well. She turned to SC.
MR: "Can you help me?"
SC began working on helping MR with the diaper, explaining what she was doing as she worked on each step so that MR could follow the steps to get the diaper on the doll.
Out in the main room, TS was building with the multi-colored blocks and the Citiblocs. JH sat down near TS and looked up at her.
JH: "Can I help you?"
It's amazing how asking to be a part of play, asking to use an object, and asking for help can be so powerful in how easily and enthusiastically others say "Yes!"
These two strong and effective phrases are paramount in how the preschoolers enter into play with others and will continue to be used and expanded on as the preschoolers grow.