October 26, 2022 | Kristen Jordan
From the very first days of the school year, we begin working toward building a community in our classroom. There are so many ways that this community develops and while some might be expected, some may be less obvious.
Our days begin and end with trying to connect with each other. We greet one another in the mornings, talk about things from the children’s lives, and play name games to practice hearing and saying one another’s names.
Each day, we think about who is not at school, and then we pray at the end of the day for the children who are not with us that day. It helps the children know that each of them matter to our community. They are very good at knowing who is missing from our class!
The structure of the way children work and play also helps them to develop relationships with one another. There is intentionality and yet fluidity in the way children work throughout the day so they have many opportunities to spend time with different partners, small groups, and of course with the whole class all together. They are getting to know each other in many different contexts and combinations.
Children make connections when they work side by side, often engaging in great conversation, perhaps talking about the work they are doing, about their baby brother, or what they ate for breakfast.
When children collaborate to create a painting, build a puzzle, or tell a story, they work together toward the same result and are able to enjoy together what they helped to create.
We celebrate successes like when children build a tall structure or open a snack container for the first time. In sharing joy and accomplishment together, we all feel closer.
The act of playing together at the park is another great way that children build connections with others. As they run, laugh, climb, and act out stories, they become closer to one another.
If a mistake is made, we help children connect through conversation. We help them to practice saying “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you.” Conversation and communication help heal and strengthen our relationships with each other.
Children also build bonds when they share materials, take turns while playing a game, and serve their friends with kindness by holding a door or helping others to clean up.
Even sharing the job of wiping down the wet slide is a community building event! When you work together to make things better, you feel connected.
One of the greatest times of creating connections during our day is when we have meals together, sitting with a variety of friends. The children have been having fun playing “I Spy” during mealtimes, or sharing answers to questions such as “Would you rather be a bird or a bear?” They also often enjoy the conversation about what they are eating or what they do after school. Just as families and friends enjoy good conversation during meals, preschoolers also build relationships as they share conversation and laughter at snack and lunch times.
We place great value on creating a community that welcomes and respects everyone and we will continue to work on building relationships and connections throughout the entire school year. As you can see, there are so many ways in which this is happening already in our class!