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Heather Shumaker

Heather Shumaker

Heather Shumaker has not set their biography yet

Posted by on in Early Childhood

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There's something lurking on the wall in nearly every preschool classroom that shouldn't be there: a giant calendar.

Calendar time takes center stage each morning in thousands of classrooms. During morning circle time, the children gather on the rug at their teacher’s feet and go over the day’s weather, the day of the week, and the day’s date. It's time to banish that calendar.

I’ve never known an adult who doesn’t know what Monday is.  Or a third grader, for that matter.

Grasping the days of the week is not hard, but it takes some growing up to be relevant.  Many young kids live in a fog where time is concerned.  “Can we play at Mia’s house yesterday?”  “My spaghetti stew needs to cook for 100 hours.”  Time and days of the week are vague.  That’s OK.  Young kids function best with time statements like “after nap.”  Time will settle down in their minds soon enough.  Why impose our ordered rows of time on them now?

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Last modified on

Posted by on in Early Childhood

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As soon as children are old enough to walk, we expect them to share. I prefer putting "share" in quotes, since this type of sharing is usually forced by the adult. Our goals are noble: kindness, generosity, awareness of others. Unfortunately, our approach backfires.

Kids learn more life skills -- and develop better generosity - when they aren't forced to share.

Of course, sharing squabbles happen all the time between kids. Here’s a typical scene: One child is busily engaged with a toy when a new child comes up and wants it. A nearby adult says: “Be nice and share your toys,” or “Give Ella the pony. You’ve had it a long time.” What happens? The child is forced to give something up and her play gets interrupted. She learns that sharing feels bad. It’s the parent who’s sharing here, not the child.

Traditional sharing expects kids to give up something the instant someone else demands. Yet we don’t do this ourselves. Imagine being on your cell phone when somebody suddenly comes up and asks for your phone or takes it from you. “I need to make a phone call,” he says. Would you get mad? As adults, we expect people to wait their turn. We might gladly lend our phone to a friend or even a stranger, but we want them to wait until we’re done. The same should apply to kids: let the child keep a toy until she’s “all done.” It’s turn-taking. It’s sharing. But the key is it's child-directed turn-taking. 

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