We've found that when we value a child-led process in problem solving, the children, in turn, also value the process! They take great joy in coming up with interesting solutions. They develop a sense of pride in their own ability to come up with a plan that works for everyone. And this leads to a never-ending list of life skills: They understand that not every plan works for everyone. They know that sometimes their plans work, and sometimes they don't. They don't fear failure. They learn more and more about each other, themselves, and how they fit in their community. They build leadership skills. They figure out how to negotiate, how to stand up for themselves when they want to, how to let go when they can, and how to work through strong emotions of themselves and others.
This morning, as I observed at the Preschool House, I couldn't help but cry, overwhelmed by the beauty of the children's interactions. I wish you could have been there... Check it out:
Three children all wanted to swing (S, M, and T). S offers a solution: Everyone at the same time! (Note: I can almost guarantee that if I had come up with this plan, it would not have worked :)). T and M agree to the plan, and T helps them get situated before climbing on the bottom rung.
|Pride and joy... They came up with this plan!|
|A group of children wait in line for a turn with the boisterous, swing-skilled T.|
And then some children express frustration with the wait time. T's idea: They could chant while they wait! And how about also jump back and forth?
Check it out:
Did I stop them because the chant was "Weener, weener, pumpkin, penises"? Nope.
Did I tell T she was being bossy? No freaking way.
This works for everyone. And it works for me. So I just keep watching.
The chanting then turns into a parade of chanting and laughing around the yard.
T directs: "M, you stand here! With your head out! Yes! Like that! And J, you stand in the middle. Yes! Put one hand here, and one hand here. You're doing it!"
Then a child who was observing decides she wants to join in. She attempts to communicate with TC that she'd like to get up the ladder, but he doesn't notice her.
The group then asks the teacher to join in, and I am reminded that what shines just as bright as the amazing work of these children is the work of the teachers--always available as much as needed...never more, and never less.