Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Rules of the Playground

As the school year starts, my little students are inundated with new information and new experiences. Because they are so overwhelmed, I try not to say "No" to them too often, instead using their actions as an opportunity to teach them about how things work in preschool.

"At school, if you want a toy your friend is playing with, we don't take it from them and then hit them with it."

"At school, tables are for coloring and gluing on, not jumping off of."

"At school, we use crayons for coloring on paper, not coloring on the walls."

But I do have some hard and fast rules on the playground, rules that need to be adhered to. There are only three, and after the first couple weeks of school, my students can recite them to me.

1. No standing on the tire swing; it only took one child going to the emergency room to have me be very stringent about this rule.

2. No throwing sand; if you have ever gotten sand in your eyes, you know that this is a biggie. And while it is hard to get sand out of my own eyes, it is truly nightmarish to have to hold down a three year old to rinse out his eyes.

3. No putting sand in the water fountain. Kids love playing with sand and water, and it is a natural inclination to use the water fountain to get water for that type of play. The only hitch is that when sand gets into the water fountain, it ceases to function. And a water fountain is a big necessity on a playground when the temperatures go up to 112 degrees. So, we tell the kids, if you need water, ask one of us and we will turn on the hose.

We are well into our third month of school, and my students shout these rules to me every day as we are about to go onto the playground. Occasionally, I will ask them why these rules are in place. Last week, I got the standard answers....

"Why don't we stand on the tire swing?"

"It's not safe!"

"Why don't we throw sand?"

"It hurts when it gets in your eyes!"

"Why don't we put sand in the water fountain?"

Now, the reasoning for this one is admittedly a little beyond my students' grasp. In general, I get some blank stares, and I remind them that if they need water, to come get me or another teacher to turn on the hose. But this time, when I posed the question, a particularly astute student shouted out...

"Because it is a drinking fountain!"

A sea of light bulbs went on over my students' heads. They all got why that rule was so important now. Of course you don't put sand in a drinking fountain - that is silly!

A little boy then asked, "Why do you call the drinking fountain the water fountain?" I don't know, I told him, but from now on that is what I am going to call it.

And funny, this year, the drinking fountain has had less sand issues so far than in years past. Funny, how one word can make such a difference. And amazing how a three year old thought of it.


1 comment:

becky w. said...

OMG! I am sooo that mom who thinks her kid is that kid! After reading this post, I (naturally) asked Dylan what the playground rules are. When he told me about the sand and the drinking fountain, of course I asked him why! His reply? Naturally he said because it's for drinking. Oh yeah, my kid is so that kid!