I believe that the main thing that needs to be learned in kindergarten/early childhood (which is technically preschool through second grade) is how to be a part of a social group. This is the foundation of our classroom. We work on it every day, hour, minute. We are submersed in it fully. Working out how to communicate, how to say things in a way that others understand and also so that others feel heard and cared about.
We have already had our fair share of hurt feelings, anger, name calling and pushing, as to be expected. And every single time this happens we talk about how else we can say something when we’re frustrated and how to be really specific with our feelings and needs. So, we’ve been doing it. I’ve been getting down, asking what is the actual issue, and coming up with a solution together about how we can communicate this issue in a more productive and kind way. We also work on it at meeting and we all come up with suggestions for each other. Practice. Practice. Practice. One day during meeting, someone called someone else a name and someone who had been name calling earlier in the day, came up with another option and gave this person the words to help say what she was feeling.
Then I was shooting some video the other day. I wanted to capture just what we do in this classroom. I had intentionally laid out the marble maze and told them that they needed to build before getting any marbles since it can sometimes turn into a frenzy. As soon as I uncovered what was there, they were on it. I knew this was going to take some major cooperation and I wanted to see if what we’ve been practicing was working. I wanted to be able to see it from another perspective. It’s funny how you don’t even remember saying some things.
And as I watched the video, it was so interesting to see how many times the kids have a some conflict and work it out together. There are times where I step in and remind them of our agreements about talking about our feelings instead of using hurtful words or actions. It’s also interesting how much of the reacting is misunderstanding. I also love how kids come in and out of the play that is happening and how amidst all the noise and movement, other kids are just building quietly and seemingly undisturbed. I really think it’s a beautiful piece of cooperative learning. I also can’t believe this is what I do all day long. Wow, when I’m in it, it doesn’t seem so crazy but watching it – jeez I must be insane to love what I do. But it’s just beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.