Today’s standard to be discussed is: Recognizes the structure of government and the relationship between rules, laws and becoming a good citizen. The standard is, once again, taken from the kindergarten standards for the Fairfax County Public School System in northern Virginia, just outside Washington, DC. This sounds like such a “big” idea for a kindergartener in my mind, but after looking at the benchmarks aligned with it, I can see how important it is! One of the benchmarks is: Demonstrate that being a good citizen involves taking turns and sharing.
When written that way, it’s easy to see how the work of building skills from 0-3 years old for taking turns and sharing is appropriate and crucial. Infancy and toddlerhood is the time that children acquire the social, emotional and language skills of “being nice” so that the benchmark can be achieved easily once the child arrives at school. The “academic” concept of being a “good citizen” deepens and broadens a child’s understanding of “being nice” that he learned in the early years.
Here is a list of activities and tips taken from the Operation Ready By 3 Infant-Toddler Curriculum that can help build the foundation for learning about being a good citizen in school:
1) Read books about sharing and caring, taking turns and helping others.
2) While child is playing with a baby doll or stuffed animal, join in the play and model appropriate social skills for taking turns and sharing toys around you and child. Use language during the play such as “It’s your turn now, Teddie” or “When you’re done Teddie, it will be my turn.”
3) When child playing with peers or siblings and does not want to share, tell the other child “______ (child’s name) is not in a good sharing mood. Maybe he will be in a better sharing mood in a little bit.” Then tell child who is not sharing “When you’re in a better sharing mood, give the toy to ______ (other child’s name).”
4) Play “chase” with a crawling or walking child. After you “chase” him, turn and encourage him to “chase” you. Use language such as “I’m gonna get you” or “Now it’s your turn to get me.”
5) Engage child in a game of “catch.” This can be done with a “sitting up” or crawling baby or toddling/walking child. Toss the ball to child and say “Your turn.” If he doesn’t throw it back right away, say “My turn” and wait for him to throw it. If he doesn’t throw it say “My turn” again and tap your chest to give a gestural cue.
6) When child is holding something say “Give it to me.” Use the same cue often, during play, eating, dressing activity, etc. Pair your verbal request with a gesture if needed (see #5 for an example of gestural cue). When child gives you the object, say “Thank you!” If he does not give it to you, help him give the object to you by guiding his hand to yours and carefully remove it from his hand. Tell him “Thank you for giving it to me!” with a happy facial expression. Child may ask for it back (e.g., a younger child may make a sound or hold out his hand/arm, an older child may use words to say “My turn” or “Me have it,” etc.), in which case hand the object back to him (as long as it is something safe for him to have). See how long you and he will keep the activity of giving and taking going.
7) Show child object’s that belong to other people (e.g., Mommy, Daddy, another child he knows, etc.). Talk about the object “belonging” to others using language such as “This is Daddy’s hat” or “This is not yours, it’s mine” (or “his/hers,” if the person is present).
8) Encourage child to take turns and share with others (e.g., familiar/unfamiliar, older/younger than him, more/less active than him, more/less social than him, etc.) whenever possible and appropriate.
9) Help a child collaborate, or work together with, others (e.g., familiar/unfamiliar, older/younger than him, more/less active than him, more/less social than him, etc.) whenever possible and appropriate. For example, if he is having trouble putting a puzzle together or making a toy work, encourage him to find a friend/sibling/grown-up to help him. Or, if something is too heavy for him to lift, encourage him to ask someone to help him.
10) Use “sharing” vocabulary daily with child. Examples of phrases/sentences to use are: That’s good sharing/That’s not good sharing, You are being a good sharer, What a good sharer you are!, Sharing makes _______ (name of child he is sharing with) happy, Not sharing makes ______ (name of child is not sharing with) sad, You are not sharing the ____ (name the toy), so it has to go in time-out, When you’re ready to share, the _____ (name the toy) can come out of time-out.