Life Lessons (what I learned in preschool)

It was very hot with no shade offered from the leafless trees, so we turned on the outside faucet and filled the buckets and got down to the business of playing with water. As I am sure you can imagine, it was only a matter of time before someone was crying about their clothes or shoes getting wet. We helped the children make the connection between the choice "I will play with water" and "I will probably get wet." We choose to play with water and with it comes the joys of busy and purposeful work while cooling off on a hot day with the eventual -- and pretty much guaranteed -- downside of getting wet, sandy, and muddy. The children were asked, "Do you want to get wet, sandy, and muddy?" Based on their answer, they could then own the reality that comes with the choice to play with water. This idea of making a choice to accept the good with the bad is very useful in life. The children also learned some other useful life skills this week.

They learned that they could jump really, really high (and far), but some chose to jump from a lower surface, because if you are going to jump it is your body.

They also learned that they could choose whether to play "Battle" or what I call "Against" or "Get" -- this is a really common play pattern that young children engage in which is kind of like tag, but it is marked by words like "Let's get them." And usually involves a set of children chasing (or getting) another group of children or taking things that they are playing with and running. Unfortunately, most of the time the "getting" group does not check in with the children they are taking things from. We called it "Battle" because the game that the Leaves are playing is a battle -- they are battling bad guys, but they assigned the role of bad guy to various children who do not know they are part of the game or do not want to play. As is our practice, we do not eliminate the game that results in a-shrieking and a-noise, we help the children connect the dots and add components that are necessary for "Against" and "Get" type play -- the components that are necessary are...

  1. We checked in during circle to find out who was playing the game -- children who wanted to play stood up and those who did not want to play stayed sitting. The children made eye contact with the battle and non-battle gamers
  2. We reminded them that battle/get games belong outside -- not in the classroom
  3. We talked about checking in often to see if others are actually still playing your game during the play

Establish a base so that you have a built-in checkpoint for the players. Base gives everyone a place and time to revisit the rules with them and gives them a place to take a break from running.