How do people become connected with each other? How does this work for children?
A wagon at preschool is a wonderful thing. Why, you might ask? Well, it requires at least 2 children to make it work. One child to ride and one child to pull the wagon. This makes it one of those toys that actually brings children together who may be used to a lot of parallel play and have not yet discovered the whole idea of cooperative play just yet. The wagon can help children become connected. It is a catalyst for building friendships.
Most of the time, I notice that there are lots of children who want to get a ride in the wagon. For this reason, I usually leave it up to the children to pull the wagon as it allows them an easy way to make a friend. And so there have been many times over the years as an early childhood educator where I’ve witnessed children who want rides and cannot have one as there’s nobody willing to pull the wagon around. And sometimes they wait for a really long time before they get a friend who will pull the wagon.
This year, we seem to have the opposite problem. We have a friend who absolutely loves to pull the wagon and he loves it best when there is somebody sitting in the wagon and getting a ride. Pulling an empty wagon is no fun. And a stuffed toy or a doll just won’t do. There have been days and days where our friend A wants to pull a friend but the other children are all busy. No one will agree to a wagon ride.
And finally, we had the best day ever for A. Everyone wanted a ride. A was in his element. A smiled and giggled and laughed. Did he ever get tired? No! He pulled that wagon all morning long. And there was no shortage of interested riders. The wagon was like a magnet drawing children together. A, D, Z, K, and Am became connected. Friendships were formed.
This makes me think…. What other ways can we help young children become connected with others? What about adults? How do we develop connections with each other and our communities?