A good friend just tagged this article to me on Facebook: Sweet Photo Series Reveals What’s in a Preschooler’s Pocket.To be honest, it made me laugh. I think a companion article should be ‘Sweet Photo Series Reveals What’s in a Preschool TEACHER’S Pocket.’
I have to admit that children are my passion. I live for them and live to understand them and to help them grow and develop. If you meet me at a party be prepared for me to bore you out of your mind with stories about children and how amazing they are.
So, after seeing the above article, you may be thinking, young children steal lots of things from school? Well…yes…if you are thinking like an adult.
But really…no…if you can try to think like a young child.
To think like a child you must understand her development. Preschool children are very literal and very self centered. They can not yet understand another person’s point of view. In psychological mumbo jumbo this is referred to as ‘Theory of Mind’. They are still learning that they can’t have everything they want when they want it.
So…in the classroom, when a child sees something he finds interesting he wants to take it home. He wants to show his brother or his dad or his mother. He doesn’t have the ability to think about the fact that what he is taking belongs to another person or to another environment (school).
I have had several instances where parents of young children were horrified when they found objects from school in their child’s pockets or backpack. I’ve even had parents return to school the same day to return items!
Children in the preschool years are in the sensitive period for small things and order. Thus, it makes perfect sense that they are obsessed with those tiny objects they find at school. To be honest, if something small is lost, the best way to find it is to let the children know we are looking for it. They always find it. I never do.
So…back to the preschooler’s pocket treasures. I like to sit back and observe what the child has in his or her pocket. It tells me a lot about the child. It tells me where her interests lie, how I can use those interests to engage the child in learning and, perhaps, where we need more social learning.
If you are the parent of a child with a pocket full of contraband, take a moment to contemplate the items. What do they tell you about your child? How can you use this information to further your child’s education by honing in on his interests? Ask your child some open ended questions about these items. (Where did you find this? Tell me about this rock. What is this? Why do you think this (rock, sparkle, etc.) is interesting? ) Think on the level of your preschooler…’Hey, this thing is cool. I want to keep it.’ rather than, ‘I’m going to sneak this away from my class. Mrs. Bitts won’t miss it.’
Remember, preschoolers aren’t socially aware enough to be so deceptive. They are still acting on their immediate desires. We can talk to them about their feelings (I can tell you really liked this shiny star and wanted to keep it forever) and then gently talk to them about the social and moral issues (The rule at school is that we have to keep things that belong to the school at school. You would be sad if you didn’t have the ____ at school to play with. Why don’t you take it back to school tomorrow so someone else can enjoy it and you can share it with your friends.)
When we look through the lens of childhood and understand the developmental stages of our children, these seemingly large issues are put into perspective and make everyone just a little more understanding.