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After School Tea Time – Week of 10/26/2021

Welcome back to After School Tea Time! Take a look at what we’re spilling this week! We have questions from all over Connecticut, so grab your tea cups and get comfortable. This is the tea you don’t want to miss!

Question From Fairfield County– There are a few children in our program who do not like to share materials when we are doing activities and this makes the other children in our program upset. What are some ways that we can encourage the importance of sharing?

Answer: By now school age children know what sharing is.  Materials, markers, scissors and crayons etc belong to the program and they are meant to be used by all the children and they must share so others can finish their own activities.  Have you told the children this before the activity begins? Don’t assume with children, let them know directly what they should expect. It’s important to understand where the child is coming from.  Why does he/she not want to share? That might be a good question to ask.  When you do see a child share you might want to praise and give them lots of attention. What about modeling sharing?  You could sit with one of the non-sharing children and “demonstrate” sharing.  You might want to have a color they treasure and you say, “I’ll share if you let me use the green marker” or some such and praise them if they share. These work with preschoolers also.  Remember that we are all teachers and it takes time.  Remember too that it is ok not to share just because another child wants an object. That child might find another child to share and then you can unload the praise!

Question From Hartford County– The parent of a child in our program recently had a disagreement with one of our staff members over how their child was spoken to. Though the staff member spoke with them, the parent is still upset with how the staff member handled the situation. How can we find a solution to resolve this situation?

Answer: In order for the team to be successful, staff have to know that you have their back. So how did the staff member handle the situation?  Did the staff person do everything appropriately?  Could the parent also be correct?  Could it have been handled differently? Were there other witnesses? Was the incident documented? Who told the parent about the issue? Was the report they heard accurate? Do you have documentation of the child’s behavior that led to the incident? Do you have documentation from the staff person’s perspective?

I understand that you want to protect your staff members AND you also want the parent to be happy also.  I don’t know all the facts but I do know there are many different ways to handle situations. The first thing to do is put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and be objective. What do the facts state? In this instance, it is important not to be swayed by personal feelings about the child, the staff, or the parent. Was the incident a misunderstanding? What could the staff have done differently and how can the incident help your program grow? Getting the parent and staff person together with a mediator/supervisor can help with trying to understand the other’s point of view and that requires open mindedness and a willingness to agree to disagree.

Inevitably, there will be those that cannot be consoled and in some cases take ownership for their or their child’s actions. In this case, documentation is also something to consider as you never know when the complaint leaves your office where it will wind up (agency or district leadership, licensing, etc.). Keeping good records can only benefit you when conflict arises.   Unless you can get them to come to terms then each will have to live with their hurt feelings which would be a shame because they both are probably right. As the old adage goes, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”.