When your child is a preschooler, it is instinctive for parents to want to protect their children. Parents are bombarded almost daily with media warnings, cautionary tales, and new studies of threats to your children. Parents want to be vigilant, and anticipate any situation that could cause their child hurt or distress. Of course, this applies to your child‘s preschool experience as well. Parents want to be informed of their child’s daily experiences and interactions and seek to protect them.
I had a parent visit me in the office with a request. She mentioned that one of the goals for her child was that he become skilled at resolving conflict. She understood that his classroom dynamic was very harmonious and there were few opportunities for him for practice settling differences. He currently plays with a group of older neighborhood children and would be heading off to kindergarten next year, both situations required adeptness at negotiating play with peers. She went on to say that she felt like this was very important for him to learn this in the supportive environment of the preschool, with our teachers close by and present to coach him.
I thought wow, I have never heard a parent ask for MORE conflict in their preschool experience! Rather, it is usually a parent visiting me who wants us to end conflicts — and the sooner, the better. Upon further reflection, I was really struck by how insightful she was.
Our teachers here have consistent, fair, age-appropriate methods of resolving conflict in children. Our ratios are low, so that individual attention could be given to the children to assist with problem solving – while kindergarten ratios are now up to 1:22. I think she was right on target to see the value in conflict, rather than expecting to rescue him when he was faced with a tough situation.
The conversation gave me a new lens of viewing the role of conflict in the classroom, and I thought it might do the same for you.