Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thinking Beyond Yourself

Preschoolers are very self-focused. That's just who they are. They see the world from their own perspective and struggle with seeing it from the viewpoint of others. As they get older, they develop more understanding of others and empathy with them. It's always exciting to see young children thinking about others and the ideas and preferences beyond their own.

Recently we were making cards for our mothers (or someone else). We had markers and stickers, just your regular preschool art materials. Of course, as preschoolers work, I talk with them.

As always seems the case in these circumstances, we began to talk about colors. I made a comment about a color someone was using. And then comments about colors began to zoom around the table. One boy talked about a color he liked. "I like that color, too," I commented.

Another boy said, "I like all the colors. Except yellow."

"Really," I said. "Why don't you like yellow?" He shrugged and kept drawing.

"Sometimes yellow is hard to use," I said. "It doesn't always show up when we draw with it."

Another child patiently explained to me how to make yellow show up on the paper. (You mark with it over and over in the same place.) Our conversation moved on to other things.

I walked around the table, looking at the things that the children were doing, as we finished our cards. I came back to the first boy and looked at the rainbow he drew. "Wow," I said, "you used all the colors in your rainbow." I pointed at a line. "You used yellow, too, even though you don't like it."

He looked up at me and replied in his most patient voice. "My mom likes yellow."

I had to smile. "Oh, I see. Your mother likes yellow so you used it on your drawing. That's very smart to think about who will get your card and use things she likes."

I love to see my kids grow. I love that my friend thought about what his mother would like and used that on his card for her instead of what he would like. Letting kids explore their own ideas helps them develop in their own natural ways - and show you that growth through their work and play.

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