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A Manner of Speaking

By Bonnie Neugebauer

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"What do you like about working with other children?"
"What does collaboration feel like?"
"What is difficult about working with others?"

Similar questions were posed to young children when I asked for help in preparing for my presentation at the Boulder Journey School Summer Conference, which focused on collaborations in all the ways people work together in early childhood programs.

Chloe, eight-year-old daughter of Scott Bilstad, Creative Director at Exchange, shared several important ideas:

"One of the good things is . . . when we were working on a map, I like to see where everybody's house is and if I were working on that alone, I wouldn't know where everybody's house is."

"Cooperation feels sometimes hard and sometimes pretty good."

"Thehard part is usually you can't figure out which game to play."

"Okay . . . . Okay, what game should we play?"
"Mine!"
"No, mine!"
"No, how about this?"
"Maybe we should . . . "
"Everyone has a different idea and wants to play theirs first."

"The good part is all the other ideas that people have that I would have never thought of before. You have more ideas with other people and learn more things."

Tina Reeble from Dimensions Early Education Programs in Lincoln, Nebraska, had great conversations about collaboration:

Alex, age 7: "We are trying to share; that's cooperation."
Ben, age 4: "Cooperation means to wait."
Scout, age 4: "It means calm down and be quiet."
Emerson, age 3: "We are doing big work together!"

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