Most early childhood experts agree that play is an invaluable teaching tool. Play is how children learn about themselves and the world around them. It is how they learn social skills and how to make friends. Pretend play is one of the all time faves among preschoolers at KSELC. We generally open the pretend area on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and watch as their imaginations take over. Princesses, teachers and chefs create games and negotiate the sharing of certain toys and props. The scripted conversations generally go something like this:
“I will be the mom and you will be the baby, and I will take you to the store and then you cry.” “Okay, and I get to have this bag and you can have that one.”
“But I had that bag first.”
“But I want it. I like it.”
“No, I like it,”
Then the tug of war begins, and the throat screams that they’re trying to muffle start to build. Ms. Suzi and I listen and watch and watch and listen to see if intervention is needed. Sometimes, all it takes is “What’s happening here?” And the child who did the grabbing automatically lets go (essentially “owning” the act) and all is well. Other times, we must coach them through, asking for each person’s side of the story. As they are telling, the person in the wrong usually has an epiphany and agrees to wait for a turn.
One of the coveted items is a bridal veil. It’s white lace and apparently, full of possibility. They don’t necessarily play wedding or anything, they just like wearing it, usually with some bag full of plastic food hanging in the crook of one arm, dragging a baby or a shopping cart or a plastic broccoli crown with the other hand. The other day, I witnessed one girl sneak up behind the bride-for-the-moment (as she hammered at the plastic workbench) and snatch the veil right off her head. The bride hollered and the perpetrator wasn’t aware that I had seen her actions. No real punishment doled out, but she did have to engage in a dialog with her friend whom she’d just dissed, and then sit for a moment of reflection. She may or may not do that again at some point. Or perhaps the this-time bride will be the next-time snatcher. But if you believe in the importance of play, you don’t get worked up about these incidents. You use them as teaching moments.