Sunday, July 29, 2012

Playing with Struggle

Many parents ask me about how we deal with moments like in this video below.  It's that tricky situation where two children want the same something.  I have written about our process before, but it is a constant process and sometimes the children like to practice this frequently.  It's a special kind of play where the children experiment with "What happens if I...."  Sometimes I call this testing boundaries and limits, but truly it's simply a new way that they figure out how interactions with other children work.  I love these moments and enjoy taking the time to give the proper assistance.  I also love recording not just the children's work, but mine as well.  It gives me a chance to reflect on the words I use, how I use them, my reactions to a situation or how the children react.  I further my wisdom as a teacher this way, using the power of observation and having a friendliness with error which enhances not just my work, but my knowledge of who the child is.

The thing to notice here is our process of working through:
1. What is happening: "You both want the milk crate."
2. Making a plan.  The key phrase from me: "It's not working!  We need a new plan."
3. Feeling the satisfaction when something works for everyone "It worked.  I can tell that makes you feel so good."
Just a moment later, the scene continued.  One child says "We both want it!"  The interesting part is that I can tell that one child is more interested in the conversation and the process of negotiating who is using something.  We capture this moment and move on.  A sense of satisfaction from everyone involved, even an explanation of what he was trying to do. 
When children are able to communicate successfully and feel the satisfaction of being heard, they are more likely to express themselves positively.  Working through this in a shame-free way, I am able to support their interest in exploring these tricky moments through play.

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