How can we empower Preschool, Prekindergarten, and Kindergarten Children to be Active Sharers?
Imagine the following situation: Susie is playing with a truck in the sandbox. Jalen comes over and says that he wants the truck. Susie turns away and keeps playing.
This situation can frustrate us as adults. We might feel that we must help Susie to share the truck with Jalen, but too often our means of support are lacking. We might try techniques such as creating an equitable time share of the toy, or insisting to Susie that she should share the truck because it is “nice.” These techniques, which force Susie to give up the truck, may appear on the surface to look like sharing. Susie, however, is left with questions: why should she have to give up the truck she was playing with? Why does the adult get to decide who gets the toy? Let’s examine how we can empower Susie, and all children in Preschool, Prekindergarten, and Kindergarten, to be active sharers.
Strategies to Support Sharing
In my experience, I have tried to keep some things in mind as I support sharing in the Preschool classroom:
- Intentional language. I use two specific phrases which help facilitate sharing: “can I have a turn,” and “you can have it when I am done.” This makes others feel heard and teaches Preschool children that sharing is important as a long-term process.
- Empathy. It can be upsetting when somebody wants the toy that you want. Loving, patient support is often best.
- Keep it positive. Sharing is a good thing. I try to talk about sharing in a positive light, and not always as a reaction to a frustrating situation.
- Creating a culture of sharing in the Preschool, Prekindergarten, and Kindergarten classroom. I seek to create situations in the classroom when sharing is embedded in our work. We then draw attention to the accomplishment achieved through sharing and collaboration. For example, the preschoolers in my class have been sewing large aprons. When the fabric was stretched over a frame, two children passed the needle back and forth through the fabric. We labeled this “partner sewing,” pointing out that the children’s goal was being accomplished by working together and sharing.
Using some of the language from above, we can see how Susie and Jalen could resolve the situation with the truck. Perhaps Susie will tell Jalen that he can “have the truck later;” perhaps she will respond by giving the truck to Jalen; perhaps Susie is still working on the skill of sharing, and an adult can help her manage her response by listening to what she wanted and then giving her appropriate words to use. In all of these outcomes, Susie is an empowered sharer.
As I was considering the Value of Sharing as a subject for this blog, I asked the children in my class what it means to share. Many children described the process, how it works, and that sharing is “helping.” One response, however, resonated with me and reminded me how joyful accomplishments are for young preschool children: “[sharing] means to be happy!”
Beginnings at MFS is the Moorestown Friends School Early Childhood Program (Preschool, Prekindergarten, and Kindergarten). The Beginnings Blog is intended as a helpful tool for parents and guardians of young children, examining important ways in which children find meaning, in their lives and in their education.
Author Garrett McVaugh is the Beginnings at MFS Half-Day Preschool Teacher. Along with his Teaching Assistant Pauline Williams, he guides some of the youngest MFS students through their first year of school. A graduate of Haverford College, Garrett has been an early childhood educator for over a decade. Prior to MFS, he was a teacher at Preschool of the Arts in Madison, WI. Prior to living in Wisconsin, Garrett spent eight years teaching at St. John’s Episcopal Preschool in Washington, DC.
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