With the arrival of spring, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and the need to be first in line more than anything else in the world as begun. I’ll never quite understand why certain children have an overwhelming desire to be first in line all the time… there are always those rebels who want nothing more than to be last, but most wish to be at the head of the line.

During the day, when we line up, we have always have a line leader and a caboose. These ‘jobs’ are listed each morning in the message so sprouts know exactly who needs to be where and there’s no question about it… naturally, being second becomes the goal at this point.

The major problem arises at bus time… our school dismisses students in bus waves, so there are basically about six bus lines that form in a twenty-five minute period. If you’re ‘first’ that day, you get to be first in your bus line, but what about the other five lines? Children know they aren’t allowed to run… you’d be amazed at the speed walking to line. I happen to know speek walking is an Olympic event and some of these kids could definitely medal.

I’ve tried joking with them.

“Does the person first in line get a pony? A giant chocolate cake? A pot of gold?” I asked.

Blank stares. My rapier wit is lost on them. I’ve tried a more literal approach.

“Aren’t you all going to the same place… the bus? Why is it so important to be first?” I prodded.

More blank stares. I’m starting to realize, they don’t really know why they want to be first.

Which naturally made me start to think about why… why do some kids (again others could care less…) just NEED to be first?

For some, they simply want to be closest to me. I’m a nice guy. My hand is big and ripe for the holding… but there are others who have never given a hug, never grabbed my hand and yet still, everyday, the race to the front ensues. Why?

Maybe some kids are just super competitive… maybe they fight for their parents attention at home with a sibling and are just conditioned to try and elbow their way to the front… maybe the survival of the fittest really is hard wired into some people’s DNA more than others…

Whatever the reason, I’ve started a new strategy. On certain days, for certain lines (they never know which…) I do what I call the ‘Line Flip’ – after everyone has arrived in line, I shout ‘Line Flip’ and the entire line has to flip. The leader becomes last, the caboose the leader and everyone in between changes position. It’s a lovely thing.


Jenni said...

Think about this: when you are first in line, you can SEE!

You aren't staring at the back of someone else, you don't have to stretch around to see something interesting. And, you can see EXACTLY where you are going and the destination.

I used to wonder too, but then I thought about it and put myself in their shoes. When my preschoolers have to walk in line, they fight about who is in front. But when we are just walking in a loose group, and tell them they have to stay BEHIND the teacher in front, but IN FRONT of the teacher in back, they all just spread out with no problems.

Now, some will fight to hold the teachers' hands, and 4 kids win that one, or even mre if we have volunteers, and some don't WANT to hood hands, but get the privilage anyway. But no one fights about being "in front" because they can all position themselves in a place they can see.

I know lines are necessary in schools, I'm thinking another trick, if possible, I remember when I was in school wecused to walk in a double line. To mix it up, just like "the line flip" take the child in the middle, split the line in two, and now you have two line leaders and, someone who would never have a chance in the line flip is now a leader.

Dee said...

I like the whole line flip idea! I will have to remember this to use in my class!

Kylie said...

My son fits into the ultra competitive box. As far as I can work out, neither his father or I have ever done anything to foster this, it's just him. Everything is a competition (and I mean everything!) and winning is best. Rather than try and change him, we channel it. As he gets older he is learning you can't always win and sportsmanship is just as if not more important. I do love the line flip thing though!