Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sharing is Caring

My two daughters are almost 5 and almost 2.  They are at the exciting age where they can play together, laugh together, dance together, and  communicate pretty clearly with each other.  It's a proud Mommy moment when I see the two of them showing sisterly love.   That's when I get out the camera.  
One thing I didn't realize was that they would also fight together.  I mean, I knew there would be little squabbles.  It's inevitable that things will run smoothly all the time. However, I thought they would be able to play together with no issues, the older one helping the younger one, and the younger one learning from the older one.  Apparently not the case as often as I would like.

Husband and I have discussed this a few times, trying to figure out the rules of sharing, so to speak.  In public places, the rules are pretty simple.  The equipment or items are there for everyone to use, so everyone should take turns.  However long the turn takes is ultimately left up to the children or parents present.

When at a friend's house, we make it clear that the toys are not ours, so the friend is in charge of who can play with what.

If we have a friend over our house, we first put away any special items that they do not want others to play with, then leave out the ones that they do not mind if others touch.  My girls are expected to let their friends have first pick of toys because their friends do not live here and do not get to play with the toys all the time like they do.

Now here's the issue: at home between the two girls.  I have two different situations I have been mulling over in my head.  The first is that of ownership.  The girls do have their own toys that have been gifted to them throughout the past few years.  They were given to each child individually.  So should they be required to share their own personal gifts with each other?  They can choose to share with the other if they like, but if they are literally fighting over it, when do I step in?   

A problem with ownership is that the younger one has not been around long enough to have amassed the same number of items as the older one.  Instead, we've been passing down the toys from the older one for the younger one to play with.  This has worked fine when there was a bigger discrepancy in their ages.  Now that the little one is interested in what the older one is playing with, we are having property battles. 

That brings me to the second situation, that of first come, first serve.  Whoever gets a toy first gets to play with it, even if it belongs to the other child.  Should the toys then be fair game?  We do have toys that were given to both of the girls, so it makes sense that those are a first come, first served basis.  I also try to give whoever is playing with the toy plenty of time for a turn.

Here's an example of a common fight:

Flower (almost 2) is playing happily with the Duplo Legos.  Princess (almost 5) starts playing with a baby doll that was given specifically to Flower for Christmas, but is kept in the communal doll pile.  Princess happily talks to the doll, mothering it like a good little mother.  She takes the baby doll for a walk, happening to go past where Flower is playing.  Flower looks up and notices that Princess has her doll.

Ensue crying and screaming and tug of war of the doll.

Cue my Mommy dilemma.  Do I make Princess give the doll to Flower, since it is hers?  Or do I continue to let Princess play with the doll, since she had it first?  Or do I take the doll away until they can figure out who should play with it?  Or do I ignore them and hope they figure it out without doing bodily harm?

For now, I'm buying two of everything.  



Monday, January 19, 2015

Going Into Kindergarten: What I Want

My oldest daughter is starting kindergarten this upcoming fall.  I am actually excited for her to go.  She loves being around other children her age.  She enjoys a stimulating environment where she can grow and learn.  I know she will have a blast making new friends, enjoy learning a new routine, and going to a "big girl" school.  

I am pretty sure that wherever she goes will be fine.  However, I want a school that will be more than just "fine."  I want a school that will challenge her.  One that will excite her.  One that she will be proud to go to and I will be proud to tell other parents where she goes.  I want a school known for excellence, for having students with great critical thinking skills who aren't afraid of a challenge.    

I want an organized classroom with clear expectations for students.  I want the classroom to have explicit, basic routines that every child can easily explain and follow.  I want my daughter to have a feeling of belonging in the classroom, a sense of purpose and contentment.      

I want my daughter to have a teacher that is innovative and understands how children learn.  I want my daughter's teacher to listen to her and respond appropriately.  I want her to have a good relationship with her teacher so that she can ask questions and master concepts before moving on to the next.  I want her to come home and be bursting to tell me all of the things she learned that day.  I want her to be excited for upcoming projects and activities.  I want my daughter's teacher to plan lessons that are engaging and involve music, art, movement, and everything else that my daughter might consider fun.   I want an open classroom where I can observe my daughter learning at anytime.  I want to feel welcomed by the teacher and part of the learning process.

I want a safe school environment where rules are enforced and students are kind to one another.  I want parents to know what their children are doing at school.  I want to know the other families that are at the school.  I want to know that if there is an issue with my daughter and another child, that I will be notified and the situation rectified fairly and efficiently.  I want my daughter to feel comfortable with the other children and teachers and staff in charge.  I want teachers and staff to be approachable, yet maintain their authority.  I want the school to be fearless in trying new techniques, but to stick to something long enough to test its efficacy.         

I want the teachers of the school to have a collaborative environment, where they have affable relationships and are proud of the place they work and the jobs they do.  I want them to be constantly learning and tweaking and refining their practice to make their school the best possible school it can be.  

I want the best for my daughter.  Is that too much to ask?