Outsmarting a Preschooler

One might think it would be easy to stay one step ahead of preschoolers.  But don’t let their age fool you.  It can take a lot of work to not be outsmarted by this wily and creative bunch.

One morning Silas was having a difficult time keeping his body in his own space during circle time.  His friend, Matt, sitting beside him did not appreciate the unwanted hugs Silas felt compelled to give him.

“Silas, at circle time our body stays in our own space,” I stated in a positive tone.

Silas leans over Matt like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.  Annoyed, Matt pushes him away saying, “Stop.”

“Silas, your friend told you to stop.  He wants to hear the story.  At preschool we listen to our friends.”

Silas shifts his attentions to Marianne sitting on the other side of him.  She is also not amused as he infringes on her circle rug territory.

“Ryan and Megan, I like how you are keeping your hands in your own space,” I cheerfully say to a couple students who are following the expectations.  I’m hopeful Silas will follow their lead.  Instead Silas morphs into a human puddle with his arms and legs flattened out like a giant X.

“Silas, I have given you lots of reminders about keeping your body in its own space, I hope you aren’t choosing a time out.”  The final warning has arrived.  What will he choose?

Four seconds later.  Silas chooses a time out.

“Silas, your body is pushing on Marianne again.  You will need a time out to help you remember.  How old are you?” I ask.

“I’m four and a half,” Silas replied honestly.  Half years are quite important to preschoolers as it sets them apart from their much younger counterparts.

In preschool time outs are given in line with age.  A two year old has a time out of two minutes.  A three year old’s time out is three minutes and so on.

“Okay Silas, your time out will be four and a half minutes.”

After his time out I made sure Silas understood why he had a time out.  He also apologized to his friends.  We ended with warm hugs and an affirmation he would make a different choice next time.

Later that day however Silas did not make a different choice and once again earned himself a time out.

This is the part of the story that shows how street smart preschoolers can be.  Before imposing this second time out I asked Silas how old he was.  I don’t know why I asked.  I already knew he was four and a half.  As soon as I asked the question Silas paused and I knew I was in trouble.  Silas’ crafty wheels were turning fast.

“I’m one,” he said smiling up at me.  He was clearly pleased he’d cracked the code and not only discovered how time outs work but found a way to short cut the system.

Part of me was amused at his creativity and ability to brainstorm a solution so quickly.

Somehow with a straight face I said, “Your time out is four and a half minutes Silas.”

“But I’m one,” he said a little louder.  For surely I hadn’t heard him and he generously wanted to give me an opportunity to correct my mistake and impose an appropriate one minute time out.

“Alright,” I played along, “your time out is one and one and one and one and a half.”

A puzzled look settled on his face and then resignation as he realized he was caught.  He’d have to outsmart me another day.

“Okay,” he said accepting his fate.  “I really am four and a half.”

“Yes Silas, I know,” I said with a smile.

2 thoughts on “Outsmarting a Preschooler

  1. What a joy to relive moments from Apple PreSchool. You and your staff did such an amazing job preparing my girls for elementary school. We are forever grateful!
    PS – your writing is a laugh out loud read!
    Kathleen and Dave Eaves

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