Conflict is Essential to Learning

Conflict is Essential to Learning

Believing that conflict is essential to learning also requires the belief that children are capable of learning from conflict. We see children as able to independently construct new understandings when faced with a provocation or an experience with peers that shakes up their thinking. In young children, Rotating17generally under three years of age, teachers support children in developing these skills to ensure that all children feel emotionally and physically safe. As children reach around three years of age, teachers watch closely and assist when the need arises.

Teachers partner with each child in order to nurture the development of conscientiousness, confidence and self-awareness. This partnership fosters healthy and positive relationships between children and adults. Teachers constantly evaluate the need for direction and shared control. This minimizes power struggles and allows children to learn from the natural consequences of their actions.

All children are encouraged to express what they want, what they need, and how they feel. Our teachers are trained to notice, verbalize, model, and encourage communication. When an infant rubs her eyes as a sign of fatigue, her teacher will say: "You are rubbing your eyes. You're telling me that you're tired. When I'm finished changing your diaper, I will prepare the mat so that you can take a nap."

When one child "Jack" touches another child "Jill" on the face, their teacher will wait for Jill to express discomfort and say: "Jack, Jill's face is scrunched up. She's telling you, 'I need space'" and model pushing an arm out forward while saying again: "Jill, you can say, 'I need space.'"

If a toddler child "Richard" grabs a block from toddler child "Jane," their teacher will say: "Jane, you can say, 'I'm using it.' Tell Richard, 'I'm using it.'" In the Preschool Room, our teachers facilitate verbal problem solving among children in conflict, guiding children to solve their own problems.

If two preschoolers are pulling on a ball, their teacher will say: "I see you both grabbing at the ball." The teacher will wait a moment and repeat: "I see Owen and Sarah both grabbing at the ball. What's your plan?" or "I hear that you want to use that toy. What's your plan?" The children will come up with their own plan, try it, and evaluate the success of the plan when their teacher follows up with "How did that work for you?"

Biting Happens

Biting is expected in infant and toddler groups but can be very emotionally charged. There are many reasons why young children may bite. Sometimes biting is related to teething. Sometimes children bite to express feelings that they can't express with words yet. Children can bite when they are frustrated and they can bite in the excitement of a happy moment. No one can predict when children will bite, but we must always be ready to help children who do bite to learn other behavior. We must also be ready to give treatment, sympathy and advice to children who are bitten.

  • • We must try to program the day to avoid boredom, frustration or over-stimulation. We provide a calm and engaging atmosphere with a mix of age appropriate activities. We also work to model acceptable and appropriate behaviors for children, helping them to learn words to express their feelings and giving them the tools to resolve conflicts with our help.
  • • When bites occur, we help and reassure the child that is bitten, providing any required first aid. We fill out an incident report, which is signed by a parent and staff member. One copy goes on file and one goes to the parent. We also respond to the child who did the biting. Specific responses vary by circumstance, but the basic message is that biting hurts and biting behavior needs to be redirected.
  • • If there is a case of ongoing biting, the teachers and administrative staff will analyze the causes of the ongoing biting and formulate a plan to address those causes, focusing on keeping the children safe and helping those stuck in biting patterns. When those plans are developed, we will share them with the parents of the students involved so that they know specifically how Growing Seeds is addressing the problem.

Parents are notified if their child starts to bite. We ask parents to keep us informed if their child is biting at home. If the child is biting at school and at home, we will attempt to create a consistent plan of action to deal with the behavior.