Learning to Recognise and Solve Problems

As part of our recent unit “How we share the planet” we have been inquiring into the central idea that we all have the responsibility to share our environment for a peaceful world. We have followed three lines of inquiry: recognising that our choices and actions affect others, finding strategies to resolve conflict and finding ways to negotiate and share resources.

During the Nursery year, the children have naturally come across conflict situations. Through modeling and discussion the children have become aware of how their choices and actions can have an impact on themselves and others. Initially we guided the children in finding strategies to solve those conflicts and share resources. However, as the children have matured (and especially during this unit) we have really encouraged the children to take charge of the conflicts that have arisen and find their own solutions. We have also used a number of provocations in the classroom to further the opportunity for inquiry and discussion relating to these issues.

Provocations have included:

  • providing turn-taking games to play with their friends,
  • developing an airport role-play area (voted as the most popular choice by the children) which was slightly under-resourced on purpose,
  • iPad sessions with only 4 iPads, requiring the children to come up with a system for ensuring everyone had equal access,
  • suggesting taking some classroom activities outside.

As a result the children identified a number of problems to do with sharing our environment including sharing space, sharing materials, sharing ideas, sharing people. To solve the problems the children came up with ideas for how to share roles in the airport, how to share limited resources, to find more resources, to limit time spent using resources, to use a list to take turns, and to re-organise the classroom.

Will, you have had a great year in Nursery. You have been such an important part of class discussions and we have all looked forward to your thoughts, insights and questions. In our current unit you have enjoyed making connections between the books we have read and your own experiences. We read two books about sharing work and helping our friends, ‘Pumpkin Soup’ by Helen Cooper and ‘Farmer Duck’ by Martin Waddell and Helen Oxenbury. After reading them you told us “I help Daddy to set the table when Mummy wakes up Charlie.” When we read, ‘Little Princess – I Want a Friend’ by Tony Ross, you said you would say to the Little Princess, “Would you like to play with my Thomas and Friends track?” And when we were talking about what you could do to help a friend who was sad you said you would, “Cuddle them.” When we read “The Selfish Crocodile” by Martin Waddell and Helen Oxenbury you commented that, “The Selfish Crocodile was happy at the end sharing with his friends in the river.” After reading other books about sharing things like ‘Mine’ by Rachel Bright, you said, “I share my big trucks that the clown train goes on with my friends.” When we read,  ‘The Doorbell Rang’ by Pat Hutchins you recognised that the more children there were the less cookies they would each get.

On several occasions when we have been talking about problems that have arisen in class you have suggested potential solutions that have then been taken up. On the 25th March we introduced the airport role-play. It was a bit chaotic as everyone wanted to play in the same space. When we talked about it at the end of the day you said we needed to “Take turns” and that Tommy could have said, “Please can I sit there” rather than shouting, “That’s MY Seat!” On the 29th March we presented a problem to the class – your dad was coming with 4 Ipads and we were wondering how to organise it fairly so everyone got a turn. You suggested that there should be four in a group, “Four plus four lots of times.” You also suggested we could “use a timer”, Carson said we could use “a badge” and Tom said we could use “a list, like line leader.” After a long discussion and group problem solving session we all decided that we would use the line leader list and have groups of 4 children (2 Pandas and 2 Lions) and that your dad should use the timer on the Ipads to make sure the time was fair. On the 8th April there was some debate about how many people could be the pilot in the airplane. You suggested that there should only be two because “That’s how many there are in the book.” You also suggested we use a timer, “Like we do for the Ipads.” On the 9th April when too many children wanted to sit on the blue couch at the end of the day you suggested, “Lucy and Audrey can sit beside me on the stage.” On the 18th April when we were discussing the problem of game pieces getting lost or mixed up, you suggested we “Play the game on the table.”

You show you are able to share and take turns by following things like the line leader list and choosing to play turn taking games. Through your actions you demonstrate an ability to take turns and work with other children. On the 3rd May you and Lainey were playing outside, jumping off the wall outside the purple classroom. First you were taking one turn each but then you suggested, “Let’s do 2 jumps each” and you both did this, then you moved to 3 each and finally 4 each. You negotiated this independently with each other with ease. When Lainey got a bit excited you gently reminded her that you were having 3 goes each and it was your turn. On 16th May when we were playing outside with the water you offered Lainey a boat and said, “We can have one each.”

However, I have noticed recently though that sometimes you find it harder to take on board other people’s ideas in your play, especially when you think you have a better idea. That’s natural, and I am sure with practice you will find it as easy to share ideas as you do to share toys!

What it means:

  • You understand what it means to share and take turns
  • You are able to suggest solutions for problems that arise in the classroom, sometimes without help
  • You can listen to stories and respond to them in ways that show understanding

Next steps:

In the future when conflict situations arise in his play we hope Will will feel confident negotiating sharing and suggesting and implementing solutions independently, using the strategies we have discussed and developed as a class to solve whole class problems. We also hope that Will apply his ability to share and take turns to negotiating play.

One thought on “Learning to Recognise and Solve Problems

  1. What an informative and interesting learning story, Will! I always love to hear about the activities you enjoy at school.

    The connections you made between books showed how great you are at listening and understanding how characters are feeling in stories. My favourite part of snuggling up and reading with you is hearing your own ideas about the characters and story. Do you remember the amazing connection you found between “Matilda” and “The Enormous Crocodile”? I almost fell off the couch with surprise when you recognised that Quentin Blake illustrated both books!

    I’ve noticed how much easier it is for you to play happily with your friends at home now that you’ve been learning and practicing conflict resolution, sharing and turn taking at school. It has been wonderful to watch you transfer your learning from school to home.

    At home, we have been trying really hard to negotiate when we want different hings or have different ideas from each other. I know that when we negotiate and try to find a way for both of us to get what we want, we are both happy. I don’t like being bossed around, it makes me feel sad. I know that you certainly don’t like it either! Do you think negotiation could work when sharing ideas and solutions with your friends?

    I really loved reading this learning story. As always, you make me the proudest mum in the entire world! I can’t believe how lucky I am that I get to be your mum. Love you to infinity and beyond!

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