Today we look at the world of a Preschooler. At this point our cohort has moved into the stage of figuring out what it means to be a part of an environment and culture as we are building a community where everything is connected to our individual identities and expression. This transition has made me question how so many children find it easy to assimilate into many cultures while expressing unique needs and emotions. They must rely on some important social skills implicitly woven in the shared identities we have as a group.
It seems like things are moving so fast at the Preschool cohort. From the outside, it can seem that we as teachers do a lot of the work to provide community, growth, and appropriate social cues to our students but often the children do much of this work. Most of what we do is be 'directive observers' the way a conductor behaves in an orchestra. This may include modeling behavior, narrating for children to give a voice to feelings, providing words or phrases to express emotions that reinforce successful communication and advocating for problem solving.
This last job has seemed to be an important need in our class lately. I have noticed that each child has to feel they can express themselves to feel safe and accepted. Sharing differences can often be as vital to building community as sharing similarities. I've watched as the beauty of uniting together through differences has enveloped our classroom.
The children observe and communicate when they don't like something, when they do like something, when something happens, and when they have an idea of how to solve a problem. All of this goes a long way in building the community that exists in our classroom. Below are some examples
“Stop! I don't want to play because he is hitting and that's what i don't like." said LC.
"I have a plan! AS can sit next to me and CE can sit next to SC." said EF.
"You can use the swing when I'm done!" said SC.
"Maybe you can sleep all night in my house and be my sister." said AS.
"Hug, kiss, or space? Are you OK?" said AK.
"I can help(you on the swing)! How about this or that SC?" said RM.
"Look at the dust! We can put it in our art!" said HM.
"She needs some help!" said CE.
"I'm worried he is going to hurt me. Don't hurt me, OK?" said JK.
"I'm not playing with you. I'm playing a different game." said QM.
The process has become a part of us. We own it and with it we own the ability to enact change. Over time the consistency and continual use of accepted 'tools' like the examples listed above created our community and shared identity. In just a few weeks our shared identity in this culture has spread and with it the power to be heard, to be accepted and to feel connected to learning and growth.