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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 51
14 "Walking inside" A kindergarten group had been having issues with children forgetting to walk inside. This was brought to everyone's attention at group time. It was a problem because a child had fallen down and two other children had 'collided' with one another when they were running inside. The question was posed to the group, "How can we help people to remember to walk inside?" Solutions offered by children included - tell them to stop, tell them they are naughty, put up a sign, put up a 'stop' sign, put up your hand and say 'stop'. All the suggestions were accepted without judgement (a crucial part of this step) and everybody was thanked for sharing their ideas. After some discussion it was decided to make a sign that said, "please walk inside kindy" . We knew that not everybody would be able to read the words so it was also decided that children might help to draw pictures on the sign to help us remember what the words said. This led to further discussion of what the pictures would be about -- maybe a smiling face because we would be happy, maybe someone walking, maybe the colours of kindy, maybe two people bumping into each other. The sign was duly made with six children choosing to add drawings. When finished it was placed on the wall at child height. Several times, children have been overheard saying to others "Remember the sign -- Walk inside" or "Look at the sign -- Walk inside" . Even when the problem to be solved is not related to a social issue, the process itself provides an experience which can build on a child's sense of wellbeing and enhance connections within a group. It facilitates turn taking and consideration of others and can afford children a sense of agency as, by its very nature, the process infers the competency and capability of children, and their ability to impact on their environment. "Food for dinosaurs" At group time, Bill announced that he was going to make an island for dinosaurs to live on. The discussion turned to what the dinosaurs would need to eat on their island and trees were an agreed option. And so the problem was stated, "How could Bill make the trees? Does anyone have a suggestion?" Several hands went up and possibilities were voiced. Again suggestions were accepted without judgement. Ideas included drawing on paper and cutting out, building with blocks, using cardboard rolls, using the plastic sticks from the shed. Everyone was thanked for sharing their ideas and it was also stated that now Bill would be able to decide how he would solve his problem. Bill implemented a solution during play and when the group came together again, he was able to tell us what he had done (he had elected to use stickle bricks to build trees), and if the solution had worked. Utilising a problem solving process requires teachers and educators to employ a range of skills to allow such conversations to take place, and to expand and flourish. These skills include management of situations so that children's voices are heard, modelling acceptance of ideas and contributions, and maintaining sustained shared thinking through clarification, reframing, speculating, questioning and showing genuine interest (Siraj-Blatchford, 2005).
Reflections Magazine Issue 52