By Melissa Ford
Upon entering Pilgrim Community Nursery School, I’m warmly greeted by Ruth Martin, Executive Director. Ruth has agreed to a lunchtime interview with her staff so that I can tap into their expertise as teachers, parents and Early Childhood Education experts. Wondering where this conversation will take place, I’m quickly ushered into the Diamond Room, one of the preschool rooms teeming with games, art supplies and books. Looking smart and sophisticated, clutching my MacBook Pro, I gracefully lower myself into one of the best chairs in the room - a plastic perch about 12” from the floor. From this tiny tyke perspective, I have the privilege of interviewing the kind, dedicated and talented teachers of Pilgrim Community Nursery School. But, a little background first. . .
The cumulative years of experience this staff brings to Pilgrim is staggering: 284 years of parenting, 195 years of teaching at Pilgrim and 280 years of experience in the field of Early Childhood Education. Besides these numbers, what’s really impressive is the sheer joy and passion these women have for their students. Excited to unearth their collective knowledge, I begin firing questions. With ease and laughter and stories sprinkled in, this special group of women offer beneficial perspectives on how parents can help their children with the challenges of sharing, boredom and problem solving.
SHARING: “We talk about ‘taking a turn’ rather than ‘sharing,’” one teacher explains. I ask her what’s the difference, and she immediately responds, “The difference is that if you have more than one of something (like a plate of cookies) then you can share. But, if it’s just one specific toy or game, you can only take turns. You’ll never hear a kid talk about sharing unless he wants something NOW!” All the teachers nod in agreement. The consensus is that all kids have special possessions that they shouldn’t have to share. They offer a quick tip: If your child is having another friend over for a play date, allow your son or daughter to pick some of his/her favorite things to put away. For more clarification I ask, “Why is it good for kids not to share everything?” Another teacher explains, “Think about it. Are there things you own and you don’t want to share?” Immediately, images of my favorite jewelry flash through my mind. I understand perfectly.
Bottom line: Kids shouldn’t be forced to share everything!
BOREDOM: “I’m bored.” Those words can drive a parent crazy, but what should a parent do when kids whine about being bored? These resourceful teachers recommend nothing! They explain that it’s okay for kids to be bored. Don’t rescue them, rather allow them the experience of boredom and watch their creativity blossom. I laugh when one teacher chimes in, “When my own children were younger and bored, I used to say, ‘Do you want me to do a song and dance routine?’ or ‘I can find you a job!’” I have to second this advice because when I didn’t save my own kids from boredom, they soon tapped into their own creativity making up games, selling baseball cards, making play dough, and shooting hoops!
Bottom line: Boredom = Creativity
PROBLEM SOLVING: Like boredom, don’t be so fast to take away or solve your children’s problems! Consider asking your child, “What’s your idea? How would you solve this problem?” One teacher says she’s impressed with kids problem solving abilities. Over the years, she has seen kids come up with solutions that don’t sound very equitable to her, but the parties involved always seem happy. She says, “Who am I to pass judgment on their resolution?” Letting your children work out problems allows them to feel powerful and competent.
Bottom line: Problem solving is an important life skill so let your children practice.
Hope these ideas are helpful and keep your eyes open for another Parent Pundit where Pilgrim teachers weigh in on cranky kids, poor behavior, offering choices and more!