Each day during March, I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC). All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, every day for thirty-one days. My slices will be primarily about teaching preschoolers. Check out the Two Writing Teachers website for lots more reflections on teaching. Thanks especially to Stacey, Tara, Anna, Beth, Dana, and Betsy for hosting this writing challenge.
From across the room, I see him run towards his classmate…I move quickly to be there, anticipating, but I am one moment too late. He jumps on top of his classmate, who is bent over a block structure, focused on building. He jostles his classmate onto the floor, and their bodies together knock over the structure. The block builder is so, so, so frustrated, emerging from the heap of blocks with his fists tightly clenched, preparing to pelt his assailant, yelling at him, "No! No! No!"
I quickly separate the two preschoolers, holding both, one arm wrapped around each.
"Ms. Ingram, he keeps knocking my buildings down! I don't want to play with him."
Yes, it is true. Really true. All day, this little guy has been sabotaging his friends' best efforts. Questions race through my mind. What is this? Too much time indoors during this cold, harsh winter? Not enough big body play? Is he feeling ignored? Not sure how to join in on his classmates' play?
Me to the block builder - "Thank you for saying what is wrong, thank you for not hurting him with your fists. Yes, he is having a hard time being gentle right now. I know you are sad that he jumped on you and your blocks fell over."
And then, to the challenging one -
Me - "Let's you and I walk together. I'm going to hold your hand. You will hang out with me for awhile. Let's just walk a bit."
"No! I want to play with [the block builder]! I don't want to walk with you!"
Me - "Well, truth be told, he needs a break from you. Because you jumped on him, his blocks fell over. He wants to build by himself right now."
He yells defiantly, "I'm going to put you in jail! Tomorrow! I'm going to put you in jail!"
I hold his hand gently, murmuring, "Let's walk, buddy, let's walk. I need to get something from the supply room, please help me."
My quiet response begins to quiet him.
I think children need connection, relationship.
Connection can be challenging when they are being so contrary.
However, I'm the adult, and I need to show him another way.
I think it is essential in these heated moments that we demonstrate how to be kind.
His flippant, demanding, reactive chatter - I don't address it.
In fact, I choose to ignore it.
I don't address his tone or his words because, honestly,
I don't believe you can tackle all things at once.
My focus is on a larger goal: to help him be more aware of his peers, to interact with more 'give and take,' rather than 'ruling,' 'demanding,' 'shoving' classmates into his plans. To learn how to be a friend.
This is going to take time, patience, and lots of modeling.
There will be many repeat lessons, I know.