Why is it that we adults use the word “share” so much with our young children? We aren’t even very good at it ourselves! The concept is so much more appropriate for the corporate world of Wall Street with its shareholders (no pun intended). The actual definition of share is as follows: noun. a part or portion that belongs or is allotted to an individual. Does that even remotely sound fun, fair or something we can reasonably expect a young child to do?? At our little preschool here in Boulder, CO, we have attempted to eliminate the word entirely and replace it with the concept of “Turn-Taking”. Turn-taking is something we can all understand and embrace – not only is it logistically easier in so many respects, but also speaks to a child’s notion of “what’s fair” so much more accurately. And let’s face it every kid in the world is focused on, thinking about and worried about what’s FAIR all the time! So here we were on our little patio the other day, using every conceivable piece of pipe, every funnel, bucket and shovel in an attempt to make a modern-age, water transporting, flux capacitor.
Now looking at these pictures, it may seem like we have plenty of equipment to work with here. Well, yes we do have a pretty inexhaustible supply of random stuff to move water through (thanks to Kodo Kids). BUT, with this particular invention, 100% child created, there were only 1 or 2 points at which to pour the water into. Aha! Trouble ensues, right? Sticks and stones start being thrown, party invitations cancelled, best friendship offers rescinded. Had we insisted they “share” this crucially important water pouring job, all of the above melee may have occurred. But as I mentioned above, we have stricken the S word from our vocabulary.
I mean, realistically, how could we expect multiple 4-year olds to “share” the job of holding the pipe and pouring the water? That’s totally a 1 kid job!! But turn-taking? Yes! that’s completely manageable, both physically and conceptually! We can even time them (a subject for another blog on another day – fascinates me that I can get a child to do almost anything if I tell them I’ll time them). We’ve also gotten into the habit here at Acorn of letting the kids choose how we establish turn rotations – maybe it’s Sarah’s birthday today so she goes first, or since Tommy’s the oldest he picks who’s turn it is next…………..
Either way, the turns were rotating smoothly, the birthday party list intact, friendships saved, and sure enough we also discovered water flows mostly downward, but with some increased pressure can be made to go up! Nothing cooler than discovering that! Except getting a completely fair number of turns to pour into the pipe.