Monday, 3 April 2017

Learning to share*


*Perhaps this should read, 'Desperately despises but beginning to accept the need to learn to share.'

I've spent a great chunk of this year modelling a new sharing practice with my children.  Its super simple and super effective (for the most part). 

"Sharing is caring"

"Sharing maybe caring but its not what I want," says every 3 and 4 year old in the world.  Children aren't born with this understanding of sharing and its up to the adults around to instruct them in this process.  But adults often get this process wrong which leaves both parties feeling a little bit cheesed off.

Example 1:

Ben is playing with the teapot. He's had it for a long time. Isaac comes over to the teacher and says, 'I want the teapot.'  The teacher, being the considerate person she is, tells Ben to give the teapot to Isaac because, 'you've had it a long time.' Ben has actually only had the teapot for 2 minutes after Rebecca dropped it on the floor. The teacher didn't know this because she, quite rightly, was having a picnic on the carpet with other children. 
Familiar?

Does Ben understand what 'a long time means?'  Does Ben resent Isaac for taking away his teapot? Was Bed mid-play with the teapot? And finally, and perhaps most importantly, Ben wonders, 'why aren't there two teapots?'  



I liken sharing to being in a dentists waiting room. Mrs Filling has a magazine that I want to read. I don't go over to her and snatch it. I also don't go and tell the receptionist I want it so she can get it for me.  I negotiate with Mrs Filling. I usually say, 'Can I read that when you're finished?'  This gives Mrs Filling the knowledge that I want to read the magazine and also that I'm happy to wait. (Unless you're terribly British and you just sit there waiting for it to be dropped on the table).

For children, it needs to be much the same.  Children need to have sharing modelled to them but they need to have it repeated over and over again so they acquire the skills to do it themselves.


Example 2:Charlie is playing with the red bike. Its the best bike, it goes super fast!  Roger has noticed this and wants to have a go too.  Roger has been stalking Charlie around the yard for some time. Mr Me notices and goes over. 'Roger would you like a turn?'  Roger says yes and Mr Me models, 'Roger say, Can I be next to Charlie.'  Roger does. It doesn't mean that Charlie is coming off immediately and Mr Me has to make sure Roger knows he is still waiting for his turn but as soon as Charlie is done it is his turn. Sadly, thats life!



We can insist they have a sand timer, or a set period of time that they have before passing on.  Those work for some people. But its really important as practitioners that we model how to share in the real world and begin to teach children these reasoning and negotiating skills because without those they will find growing up to be far tougher.


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