Posted on 02/24/2015 at 07:26 AM by Liz Determan

Dr. Dan Hodgins, who spoke at the Centering of Centers Conference this year, is an expert in the behavior of young children.  He says that asking preschoolers to stand in line invites a child to push the child in front of him/her. It invites him/her to be loud to be heard, to knock over someone else to get what he/she wants, to run faster than the others or to do something to make sure the world recognizes him or her.

So why do children have such a difficult time standing in a line.  It starts with the skills that are needed to do this – many of which young children don’t have or are just developing. 

Children need to have:

            •Spatial awareness – where does my body belong, will it fit in the space provided, and will it touch your space? Remember that young children do not have a good sense of space. Think of the child who gets stuck trying to get out of a space that they were sure they could get through.

            •Time awareness – how long do I have to stand here before we move? Remember young children do not have a good sense of time.

            •Self control – what will I do if someone pushes me, gets in line ahead of me or talks loud next to me? Remember that children do not always handle frustration in the same way older children and adults do.

            •Awareness of others – do I know that other kids also want to be first, get the teacher’s attention, or have enough space for their bodies? Remember that young children are egocentric and often don’t recognize other children’s perspectives.

            *Delayed gratification – do I have to wait to get what I want? Remember that children are just developing the ability to wait.       

Having children stand in line invites them to push and shove. It is not the child’s fault but the adult’s who created the challenge.

What do you do?  PLAN those transitions as carefully as you plan a lesson. TEACH the skills needed to be successful.  FIND OTHER WAYS to move from one area to another.

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