Today in our Mother Goose Time “Friends and Feelings” unit, we focused on Sharing! Before we get to a few of the cute activities for today, we wanted to share a little trick we have discovered for getting our 2 yr. olds to stand in a line, wait their turn, and get all those little hands washed without chasing them… Magic Shoes! We found these little shoe cut outs at the dollar store, laminated them, and when it is time to line up, we lay out the shoes and have each child pick a pair to stand on. They are spaced out enough that they don’t bump into each other. When it is their turn, they can pick up their shoes and hand them to the teacher. It works like a charm and even if they aren’t exactly standing on them, they are preoccupied and not fussing with anyone, so we will count it as a win!
Sharing space, toys, attention, etc. is a really hard concept for children and the younger they are the harder it is. They are still learning that they are separate from others, and their needs/wants are not the only ones that exist. If you spend any time at all with children, you will inevitably hear some adult telling some child they need to share. What that means is they must give up something that is making them happy, because suddenly someone else’s needs are coming before their own. Put that way, it doesn’t really sound fair at all. As adults, we are wanting to teach children to be kind and generous, but from their child’s perspective, giving up what they have sounds like a terrible idea and is usually met with resistance.
At our center, we try a different approach and here are some examples. Say Sally has four baby dolls in her arms and Tommy is upset because he really wants a baby doll, but Sally has them all. Tommy knows that grabbing isn’t ok, or maybe he gives that strategy a try and it doesn’t go well. Now Sally is mad and really doesn’t want to share at all. Sally is happy with all 4 baby dolls and forcing her to give up any is not going to work. We come to Sally and say that it looks like Tommy is sad because he wants a baby doll and we ask if there are any she would like to give Tommy, maybe even ask which one Tommy can have. Given a choice, she will most likely choose to give up one easily. We praise her for being such a kind friend and notice how happy that made them both. We can encourage her, but if she really doesn’t want to give up any, we help Tommy find something else to do until she is finished with the babies, because let’s face it, she probably won’t have all four forever. Giving both children the language to problem solve is so important.
Sometimes we will practice sharing with a timer. We give each child a toy to play with during “Sharing Time”, set a timer for maybe 1-2 minutes, and then when the timer goes off, everyone trades. Trading works really well because while it may be hard to give up what you have, it is fun to get something new.
Acknowledging the feelings of the children involved, giving choices, and trying to have more than one of the classroom items available are a few good strategies for teaching young children to share.
Today we practiced our sharing skills in a few ways. We worked together, we worked on the same task, but just next to each other, and we took turns. Even very young children can share, when we teach them how.We took turns to make our “Helping Hands” posters to remind us each day that we can be such kind friends. We love that Mother Goose Time spends the entire first unit of each school year teaching children these important skills that we will continue to practice all year!