School is out this week, so I’ll tell you a story from last year.
Part of being in kindergarten is about learning how to interact with others. Many of these children have never spent a whole day with others. Many have no siblings. Even if they have spent time with others, it isn’t -these- others. The rules are different. Each family teaches in a different way. What works with one person doesn’t always work with another.
It is important to know how to get along. Kindergarten teaches valuable lessons that will serve you well throughout your life. Keep your hands to yourself. If it isn’t yours, leave it alone. And most importantly, learn how to share.
Being a good loser is partly about sharing. Not everybody can win. It is impossible. That is just the nature of things. Where would be the joy in winning if everybody won?
I was playing a card game with two girls last year. “A” was a white girl with blonde hair. She was from a poor family. She was a little large for her age and had a hard time reading. “S” was a diminutive Hispanic girl. She tried very hard and even though English wasn’t her first language she was doing better than A.
In the game, S. was showing signs of winning. Being able to identify words was part of the game. It wasn’t luck that determined the winner. It was skill at reading. A. simply didn’t have that, so she was lagging behind. She started to cheat.
Kindergartners can be ruthless when they cheat.
While it is nice for everybody to feel good about themselves, cheating isn’t the way to do it. So you won? So what? You still don’t know your letters. So really you haven’t won. The point of the game isn’t really to win. In part it is to practice letters. In part it is to learn how to play a game.
Playing games is about learning the rules of games and following them. It is about taking turns. It is about cheering on your opponent. It is about playing fairly. You can lose the game and still win because you played well.
A. went back to class and S. stayed with me a bit. We had played other games with other opponents over this school year and she had lost many more times than she had won. I celebrated this win with her. When we had started working together that year she barely spoke at all because she didn’t know English. Now she had bested a native speaker.
I didn’t mention any of that. She knew it. She knew she had won fair and square. I congratulated her on being a good winner, but more importantly I congratulated her for all the times she was a good loser.
Learning how to be OK with losing is one of the most valuable lessons you can learn. Just because you lost doesn’t make you a loser. It just means that the other person won that time. It really is all about how you play the game.