Day 2 of 10! Are you back? Just joining me? Well, I’m happy you’re here, and incidentally, being “happy” has everything to do with today’s post…Solution 2: Have Fun!
Yesterday I wrote about increasing contact between boys and girls by intentionally bringing them together. I think it goes without saying that you can’t just put people together –especially people who are not choosing to come together naturally – and expect that alone to change how they think about and treat each other. What you also need to do is create some fun!
Often times in school, especially as kids get into the older grades, pairing kids up with other-gender peers is used for the opposite purpose – to minimize fun. Teachers may assign boys and girls to work together on a project in hopes of keeping everyone “on-track” or limit distractions. Perhaps this tactic has that desired effect. But are kids developing positive strategies for working and communicating with one another when brought together under the guise of an un-fun partnering? No. So why not shift the focus from simply completing a task to completing a task and improving relationships? This could easily be done by bringing boys and girls together and providing them an opportunity to have fun.
Planning activities that promote shared positive feelings and experiences between peers (who may not normally choose to work together) is one of the key components of the Sanford Harmony Program “Buddy Study.” When we first began piloting the “Buddy Study” last year, I was observing in one of the preschool classrooms. This fabulous teacher brought the kids together on the area rug to announce that it was “Buddy Time!” Immediately a little girl jumped up and shouted, “You’re my buddy Marcus!!” She was so excited. He was excited too. Now it is entirely possible that these two kids were just the happy-go-lucky type. However, I am fairly certain that much of the enthusiasm was due to the fact that the day before they had a blast blowing bubbles together.
They had fun! And they had fun together. This shared positive experience, plus the positive feelings it elicited, contributed to their delight in getting together again. I think most of us can relate, right? We feel good about the people with whom we’ve shared an excellent experience, and this makes it likely that we’ll seek them out again for some more fun in the future.