One of the most exciting parts of our curriculum is a process of conflict resolution that we use on a daily basis. When children encounter problems with other children or adults, they are trained to work through steps that help them to express their feelings and find a solution to the problem together.
We have been amazed at the growth we’ve seen in this area. Sometimes the children decide, “We can share!” Other times a child’s empathy comes through. “He can have my toy.” And some of the negotiations are quite complex. “I will use the blue fish and you can use the blue boat. Then we’ll both have blue.”
We decided to try using our steps to solve large group problems that involve all of the children. Together, they suggest solutions that might work. The picture below shows our problem on the left, where the teacher and some children are feeling sad because other children are shouting out while a book is being read. “How can we solve this problem?” we asked the students.
Skyla held up her hand and said, “Stop!” When we asked her what needed to stop, she said, “Yelling!” So our first solution shows a hand and a “no yelling” sign.
“What if someone really wants to say something while the book is being read? Is there a way to show you have something to say without shouting out?”
The solution that was agreed upon was to put your hand on your head if you really want to speak. So we added the solution with a picture of a hand on a head. Now, when children shout out we point to the solutions to remind them what we decided together.The next problem we brought to the group involved messy centers. When children went to a new area to explore, they often found toys and supplies left everywhere. When asked how we could solve this, several children stated, “We can clean up!”
“When should we clean up? Should we run to a new center first and clean up at the end?”
Kwali shouted, “No! We should clean up first before we leave!”
The kids noticed how happy the boy looked as the solution was drawn. “You solved the problem together! Let’s practice this during our center time!”
It’s empowering to be part of finding a solution. The satisfaction of hearing, “You solved the problem!” is second to none. We are proud of our little problem-solvers, and pray that these skills will follow them throughout their school careers!