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A Manner of Speaking Nov/Dec '95

by Bonnie Neugebauer
November/December 1995
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/a-manner-of-speaking/5010600/

Picture it this way: A hot, dusty, worn patch of dirt. Chain link fence. A few scrubby bushes. Cement steps and assorted other hazards. Several preschoolers. And me. We eased our way into the sunshine. They knew the way.

It was my first day as a substitute in this particular early childhood program - it felt good to be outdoors.

In mere minutes, arguments erupted around the playground - a dispute over the tricycle, tears, kicking up rocks and dirt, runaway and teasing games, mean faces.

I was the teacher! I needed to do something, but where to begin? I initiated a game of Duck-Duck-Goose. Only two children wanted to play. We tried Follow the Leader, Simon Says, Red Light-Green Light, and every other game I could remember. Each idea died quickly. I couldn't tease their interest, and outdoor playtime ended in frustration for everyone.

Pondering my inability to facilitate a joyful morning for these children, it eventually occurred to me to think about the environment. There were 11 children, one riding toy, a worn natural setting. Absent were shade, loose parts, equipment - in short, things ...

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