Thursday, January 31, 2013

Kindness, Fairness, Manners and More - Teacher Jean

I was recently invited to attend a play group/social hour for preschoolers and their moms. It was sponsored by my neighborhood’s recreation association, and I was there a resource for the parents. Upon arriving, a few two-year-olds made a beeline for the train set, but alas! there was only one Thomas. There were more than a few tears shed as the adults tried to help the children give up Thomas for a few moments to allow others to play with him. As we were cleaning up, one of the facilitators wisely pointed out that the way children learn to function successfully in group settings is by actually participating in groups. Play groups are a wonderful opportunity, not only for parents to enjoy some adult company and support, but also for children to learn and grow together with the help of their parents. Social skills are also a major part of any preschool program.

We are often asked about our approach to discipline at Small Friends. Here are a few of the ways that we promote positive interactions at school:
  • Parents and teachers model and talk openly about the skill: (using good table manners, being kind to others, taking turns, etc.)

  • Children have ample opportunities to practice the skill, and adults provide feedback to steer them in the direction of kindness and fairness. (And those who need it receive encouragement, support, and words to use when standing up for themselves.)

  • When there is a problem between two children, adults offer words they can use to negotiate with one another, and stay with them to help them follow through.

Here one friend was encouraged to ask if she could use some shapes that another friend was using, but her friend wasn’t finished with them yet. The first child waited quite a while for her turn, but it was worth the wait! She was very proud of her creation, and the adults praised her for her patience and perseverance.

  • When issues arise in a group, adults often read books that address the issues through stories. It’s amazing how quickly we see the lessons in the stories being applied by the children.

Here are some of the titles we have used recently:
I’m The Best, by Lucy Cousins
Sorry! by Norbert Landa
Help! A Story of Friendship, by Holly Keller
I’m Sorry, by Sam McBratney
Panda and Polar Bear, by Matthew Baek

One of the great rewards of working with young children is watching our Small Friends gain the confidence, cooperation and communication skills they need to become truly good friends, both to one another and to their future school-mates.


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