This post will offer a small window into what it looks like and sounds like in the preschool classroom with children ages 3.5 to 5 years to work with conflicts within the learning community. For a bigger picture view, refer to Susan’s post on the Home page regarding Opal School’s pedagogy along with evidence from neuroscience regarding this topic.
Preschool is often a child’s first experience in a community beyond their family. Preschool offers each child daily opportunities to form new relationships with peers, to feel a part of creating a place for themselves outside of their home, to feel a sense of belonging, and to experience a multitude of perspectives that are present within a diverse community.
As children share space, materials and ideas it is inevitable that there will be misunderstandings and disagreements. At this young age children are making their beginning attempts at trying to communicate what they need and want. As with all human beings, this doesn’t always go as they hoped or as we expect from them. As teachers, we anticipate this. We share a multitude of strategies with them that they can use when they are in conflict with someone else or when they have tried to resolve the conflict in a hurtful way and need to repair this with their friend.
We wondered, “How can we offer these strategies to our learning community in a way that is engaging, playful, and has meaning for them?” We decided that we needed a Strategy Fairy!
As we gathered for our Morning Meeting one day, Caroline shared that when she arrived in the classroom that morning, something felt kind of different, but she didn’t know what it was exactly. When Kimie then arrived, they both thought they saw something out of the corner of their eye near the treasure box on the shelf. They decided that they wanted to wait to investigate this until everyone had arrived at school.
We then slowly opened our treasure box and found a sparkly note inside. Here is what it said:
Along with this we found our first strategy:
The children had been trying on “Give a gentle reminder” for weeks already and were so excited to know that a strategy fairy would be bringing us more strategies to use.
Here are a few others that the strategy fairy has brought since that first one.