Thursday, November 10, 2011

Preschool Social Dynamics

I managed to hit the sweet spot in timing for running errands this morning. I got gas without needing air and artillery support, even pulling right up to a pump (though there were at least two pumps that were blocked by people parking badly at the pump they were using), and then hit Target when it was nearly empty and there was no line to check out. Meanwhile, I got an incentive to clean my desk and keep it clear. In the dollar section at Target, they had a desk blotter 2012 calendar, with plenty of space on each day for appointments, plus room around the edges for notes and to-do lists. Now I just need to clear off enough desk space to be able to fit it and keep it clear enough to keep using it. I think the space for notes and lists should eliminate some of the stuff that goes on my desk.

We had a very trying night with the preschoolers, thanks mostly to preschool social dynamics. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a Wild Kingdom type show, observing the creatures as they interact with each other, except they don't let me have a tranquilizer gun. To start with, we had a clingy one in tears because she didn't want her mother to leave. I ended up with her on my lap, crying on me, for a while, until the rhythm band instruments came out and she forgot she was sad. Then we had the weirdest game of musical chairs I'd ever seen. Since the last time we played that, the kids were crushed and devastated when they were out, we decided to let the ones who were out play instruments. While we still had one or two who were actively competing in the game, most of the rest preferred the instruments. We'd stop the music and have three chairs remaining empty while the kids just stood around, refusing to sit in one because they wanted to be out. We ended up having to stop the game because no one was playing. Then once we were playing the instruments, the social dynamics came up. We were trying to rotate through who got instruments like the drums, small cymbals and wood blocks and who just got the sticks, but then there were those who refused to give up their instruments when it was time to rotate and those who refused to participate when they just had sticks. So we had to take up the instruments and move on to something else.

Then we have a very odd best friend dynamic. There are two girls who are apparently best friends and do everything together. They even carpool to come to choir. One seems much older and more mature and is a lot more confident (she's also really tall, the size of some of the first graders) while the other one still has a lot of baby to her, she doesn't always participate and hangs back shyly. Strangely, though, it's the little one who is dominant and knows it. The other one who seems so much more socially advanced will defer to the other one on every decision, wants to do whatever the other one does and seems much more desperate to have the other one as her friend. We had an activity where the kids needed to find a partner, and the one girl just assumed that her best friend would be her partner, but her friend refused. I think she thought she'd then get me as her partner, but I told her I was the teacher and wouldn't be anyone's partner. I sensed some serious hurt feelings about to kick in, so I paired off the rejected one with a girl who didn't yet have a partner, and they made a good team, but the rejector refused to work with anyone. I think maybe next time we'll have to assign partners or do some kind of random selection because letting them choose turns into a political mess. I could have used that tranquilizer gun. I may need to work on helping that one girl be a little more independent of her friend. Her dad seems to be aware of the situation, and he's been working on it, too, but maybe separating them some in choir will help.

If I get desperate enough to go back to school and study child psychology, I think I have the makings for my dissertation field research.

But today is cookie baking day, and since tomorrow is supposed to be really nice and I have nothing urgent to do, I think I'm going to pack a picnic and take a long walk/hike over to the river. We're starting to get some fall color, and I want to walk in the woods.

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