Although Monday’s tip was ‘transferrable’ into daily home life, today’s tip pertains solely to the classroom as it’s not something a parent would really need their child to do (unless maybe they’re a drill sergeant or something).
Ok, so some child development experts say that preschoolers should be able to focus for 8 to 25 minutes, depending on the task (formula: multiply 4 or 5 (age of child) by two to five (the number of expected minutes of focused, undistracted time for a child aged 4 or 5.)
Although I’d have to say that sounds about right, I will also say all that seems to go out the window when the task is: LINING UP!
Now don’t get me wrong. It is completely understandable that children enter school without knowing what “single file” means!
However... what should be considered a simple, inconsequential detail about daily life at school, it has it’s challenges, one I’ve tried to simplify due to the built in 'repeat' button for each transition time of the day (bathroom-, lunch-, outside-, or gym-time with the 'repeat' feature being the first line-up going TO the destination, and the second going BACK).
So… I thought I’d put out the idea to parents to perhaps engage in a little game with their children that may just help alleviate what ends up easily becoming a prolonged and boisterous spotlit arena for the stand up comics of the group -- an 'act' that most usually involves the following (but not limited to) giddily-and-hysterically-running-and-laughing-and-sliding-on-the-floor, all while grabbing Tommy, Dicky, Harry & Suzy to join in on all the non-stop hilarity, inevitably turning into one big giggle fest, yes, a circus ring attraction that ends up stealing just a titch too much precious constructive time for any teacher’s liking just to L I N E U P?! (whew). Remember... this is happening everytime we try to leave the room! (hopefully a scenario not lasting past Christmas break when things have usually settled down...!)
And so I present to you a very simple game, one that might be a little more fun or ‘constructive’ if there were more than one child, but no worries, whatever your family unit looks like, it could become a new little fun thing you do between some of your transitions at home…
So the idea is to, wherever you are, find a focal point for the child to know where to stand. During my dayhome years, we’d line up pictures of animals on the wall so each child would know where to stand, which usually meant standing under their favourite animal picture.
Now this part is a bit easier to do at home as we can’t really be pasting up animal pictures everywhere in the school! But in the classroom, hallway or gym I usually have children line up beside a bookcase, or sitting on the bench just outside the bathroom, or near anything that has a distinct beginning point (and, come to think of it, they seem to like to lean on anything and everything around them!, whether that's the wall, the floor, each other... lining up anywhere they can lean on is helpful.)
So, after finding and cutting out a few pictures of your child’s favourite animals (yay, the Owl Magazine pile in the closet is finally coming in handy!) and whenever it’s time to go somewhere, you could ask them to line up at the picture (at the front door, back door, even in the bedroom hallway) so there's a defined 'meeting place'. This works great for when kids are done their morning or bedtime routines as well.
Again, even making it a race to see who can get there first (taking Ms. Sweetcrank's textbook idea to 'make everything a game') adds the 'fun factor' kids love, as opposed to falling into the all too common nag syndrome, something at which we adults tend to excel.)
(I should mention here however that although a race to the line-up mark does work well for the most part, at school it has the potential of children starting to expect that they can always be first, i.e.: always be the “leader”, which of course comes with its own set of issues when some children tend to put up an argument if they don’t get to go first.)
Taking the opportunity at this point to open up a chat about how important it is at school to know how to take turns would be a great introduction into the importance of developing an attitude that will come in handy (not only at school but in life in general...) -- COOPERATION (you have Ms. Sweetcrank’s winky-face agreement on that one).
Alright Drill Sergeants, happy marching (in single file) to pre-school Day 1!