Recently I read an article about whether we should teach children to share. This had me ponder the value in teaching this vital, yet sometimes difficult, social skill to our preschoolers. In a preschool environment, every day the teachers share their attention, experience and love, in addition to their classroom toys and materials with each and every child, and hopefully impart upon them the joy they will find if they pass this gift of kindness on to others.
Learning to share in a preschool environment is so much more than simply encouraging a child to share a specific toy and is never about forcing a child to give up a favorite item. As we encourage the children to share classroom materials with other children, they also learn the value of cooperation. The expectation to share everything in the classroom allows a child the opportunity to figure out how to play collaboratively with another child. Sometimes it may be taking turns, but many times, the children discover a way to play together. This encourages creative thinking and also provides the child the opportunity to expand the very necessary social skill of playing and interacting with others, which will help them to be a well-adjusted person in the world.
Sharing in preschool is not just about giving up a special toy. Sometimes they need to share a teacher or a friend’s time with another person, or share and pass markers, glue or even snack during craft or snack time. These opportunities reinforce simple courtesy toward others. We watch as children, on their own, notice another child who may be in the need of something and offer to help their friend.
At St. Paul’s Preschool we also strive to show the children the joy that is received when we share our time and resources with others. The children are so excited to collect food for our church pantry, to create and give away beautiful centerpieces for church activities, and create and deliver valentines to special individuals around our church community. Our children show appreciation for others who share their time and talents by preparing special thank you letters for parents and special people who come to school.
So yes, because the benefits are so far outreaching, we will continue to teach our preschoolers the joy that comes from sharing.
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