Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Rules of lining up...

Children line up for milk at Scheyville, New South Wales, 1957
Children line up for milk at Scheyville, New South Wales, 1957 found at

One thing that always gets me as both a preschool teacher and as a consultant is lining up for Preschoolers. Of course this is necessary, both to do and to practice. Depending on your program, classroom location, and what you do (i.e. need to walk to the library from the classroom through other classroom areas) will determine the amount of actual lining up practice you do.

Some reasons that lining up are important:
  • to safely get from one place to another
  • for fire drills and other evacuation practices (or actual emergency events)
Some reasons that are less important:
  • because children will need to know how to line up in Kindergarten and beyond
  • because Adults need to know how to line up
I say that these last two reasons are less important because
  1. What happens in Kindergarten should be the job of the Kindergarten teacher, because that is when it is developmentally appropriate to learn those skills (although that is a debate for another post).
  2. While Adults do know how to line up, have you ever seen them have to wait for services because they were not in a straight line, hands to themselves, or quiet?
I was at a bank recently, after helping a teacher who was struggling with transitioning from outside to in, and inside to out. I had suggested a walking rope to keep the children together, as she had some that ran away from the line and others that dawdled.

So I was in the bank and noticed a couple of things.
  • No one was in a straight line
  • People were talking, including making others wait a few seconds longer while they finished up greetings
  • Some people even shook hands in greeting or departure!!! (not keeping hands to self)
  • At one point two people arrived and both stood in the same position until one teller was available and then they looked at each other to see who would go next
  • Observation of this adult line would make any "Line-up Perfectionist Preschool Teacher" cringe; all those days spent waiting at the door for all the 3 and 4 year olds to be quiet, keep their hands to themselves, bodies still, and in a straight line.
  • The bank had a rope to guide us
I had some thoughts about this and wondered if you had recently:
  • Observed adult lines?
    • at the DMV they have a number system and you have to stand in line
    • people talk
    • Amusement parks have long series of ropes and mazes for us to go through
    • People from all over the world and with many different cultures and ways of learning all know the basic rules of lining up (even homeschoolers)
  • Observed what happens when an adult "Cuts"?
    • people either ignore it or one person gets really irate and tells them off and everyone feels very uncomfortable
  • Observed at a school?
    • After kindergarten or 1st grade teachers have given up on perfect lines and are happy to have a quiet line of children going in the same general direction
    • I have seen extremes to this; one school had children put their hands on their heads and walk an exact distance apart--I always thought it was more like preparing them for prison
  • Observed at a High School
    • basically teachers appear to just be happy they are all there and just count by group membership or as they get on and off the bus during field trips.  
So I asked myself what are the real rules of lining up? What do we know to do by the time we are grown up? What are some different ways, that are developmentally appropriate, to teach these skills?
  • We all go in the same direction
  • We take turns
  • We are safe
  • We are respectful to one another
Maybe you know of some more rules or expectations of lining up?


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