by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 51
This article arose from speculation about the place of "rules" in enhancing social relationships and managing behaviour. A long-accepted strategy has been to involve children in the establishment of rules within the education or care setting. While this is a strategy that acknowledges the importance of children having a measure of ownership over decisions affecting them, the emphasis on "rules" has some inherent drawbacks. This article presents the argument that an approach which focuses on problem solving with children may be more advantageous than one based on the setting of rules. Problem solving can contribute to a positive group climate, which in turn provides the foundation for a child's sense of wellbeing within the education and care setting, and plays a crucial role in a child's involvement, development and learning (Laevers, 2012). The children's story Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen, provides a telling example of how "rules" , by their very nature, tend to be inflexible, with a locked-in view of how the world should be. In dealing with relationships, there are limited black and white scenarios and MANY shades of grey. Being flexible to adapt to different perspectives and experiences is of paramount importance. A reliance on rules, even those made in conjunction with children, may bring with it the disadvantage of "being backed into a corner" , from which it can be hard to extricate oneself. An over reliance on rules may also slip easily into being a soft option where the voices of children are rarely heard. In comparison, introducing a focus on problem solving brings with it opportunities to work with, and listen to children, to encourage children to work and think together, and to contribute significantly to development and learning in many areas. Problem solving can be employed with individuals, as well as with small and large groups of children. It can be used to address issues across the whole program - ranging from making the bus at inside time, to people speaking angrily to each other, to disagreements over who is using the wheelbarrows, to coping with a visitor being delayed in traffic and arriving late, to a broken toilet, to what is the best food for a fairy party -- the possibilities are endless! Problem solving can be approached in a variety of ways. It can be as simple as posing questions to children - "How do you think you could make the wings for your jet?" or "How will you and Sonja share the fairy crystals?" or by engaging in wondering with children - "I wonder how you can let the other children know how much your cakes will cost?" or "I wonder what you will do, if all the pipes are being used in the mud patch?" For problem solving to be a major focus in a program, it is also of benefit to introduce a problem solving process to children. This process involves the steps of: As a strategy for enhancing social relationships, problem solving has a very obvious role to play in assisting children with conflict resolution. However, the actual process involved in problem solving, for whatever purpose, also provides authentic opportunities to enhance relationships within a setting. Problem solving with others can facilitate exposure to and acceptance of different perspectives, practice in talking and listening to others, and the scaffolding of deeper level thinking as children consider actions and reactions. It has the potential to contribute significantly to a sense of community as children engage in the process with a wide range of peers beyond their preferred playmates. The conversational approach of the problem solving process involves children in sustained shared thinking, with such interactions being identified as crucial in extending children's thinking and learning (NQS PLP e-Newsletter No.43 2012). Rather than resulting in a "rule" to be followed, problem solving can lead to a decision being made about action to be taken, and it has the potential to become an ongoing conversation within a group. REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • WINTER 2013 - ISSUE 51
Reflections Magazine Issue 52