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December 14, 2023

Collaborating in the Second Plane

Some of the Kavanaugh children want a pet rabbit something fierce. Gus is lucky enough to have a couple of rabbits as his classroom pets right now, and he and Nora have fallen in love with them. It has started a months long campaign here to get a rabbit or two of their very own. And, I'm sure they are wonderful companions that do great in lots of families. But, I'm not convinced. 

This rabbit situation has given us, however, a lovely example of the power of collaboration in the second plane of development. Not only the need to collaborate between the children, but the power of collaborating between the adult and the child. 

Montessori Parenting: Collaborating During the Elementary Years

We know that children in the second plane of development are incredibly social. They need to learn how to interact within social groups of kids and test the boundaries of those relationships. That's why you often see elementary kids moving in little packs working and playing together. Part of this need is the need to collaborate on projects, work, and ideas. 

Collaborating with Peers

Unlike children that might work near each other on their own work, in the second plane this might look like working together on a project. They will walk away with one finished map, for example, that one person drew and one labeled. At home, between siblings, this is often true for games, projects or work they are creating. Why do it alone, when you can work with someone else!? If I have a project that I need done - don't give the job to one, give it to two! 

For the rabbit situation it looked like Gus and Nora teaming up together. They asked together to get rabbits and it's led to the last several months of working together between them and us to see how realistic of an idea it is to add these new pets to our family. This has included organizing several family meetings, researching the type of rabbits they want to get, taking our questions and concerns and brainstorming solutions. It's been a back and forth between them and the adults. 

Collaborating with Adults

When they first came to us with the idea of getting rabbits (including how they would raise money to pay for them) it would have been very easy to shut them down, remind them of our extremely prey driven dog and stop the conversation from there. But, knowing how important collaboration is, this became a moment to work together instead with a family meeting. 

"I can see that this is really important to you. Why don't we sit down for a meeting and talk about this together. I'll come with some questions, and you two work out a presentation on what exactly this would look like." 

Holding a family meeting is a great tool for all sorts of issues in the second plane. Instead of trying to discuss issues that are important to you or them as you run around in daily life, set some time apart to check in and work together. Here are a few ways we keep these positive and helpful: 

  • One person or group of people is responsible for setting up the meeting and controlling the topic - in the rabbit situation, the kids needed to set a time, and place for the meeting and come prepared to discuss the topic
  • Focus only on the specific topic at hand: this isn't a time to air all the grievances you have
  •  Respond with curiosity and not assumptions: "what happens if Juniper is left with the rabbits?" instead of "You know Juniper is likely to hurt the rabbits if she gets ahold of them." 
  • Move forward with actionable steps: so after the first meeting, I wanted a plan for where they would like these rabbits to live, and had some action steps I wanted to see happening here at home
  • If needed, set more times to check in: this has been an ongoing process, I'm leading but with their help. We want to keep an open dialog 
  • Define your boundaries: remind them that it's your job to hold the ultimate decision making power on issues of safety, etc. And, give clear expectations of how the decision making process will go. 

This really is a back and forth. We want our children to feel supported in their endeavors while still holding our boundaries. And, while I'm still not sure rabbits are the right choice for our family with our current dogs, I'm willing to listen, learn before making a decision. 

How do you collaborate with your elementary aged kids? Have you seen the collaboration between the children?

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Anonymous said…
When the rabbit will smell as Nora or Gus, your dog is not going to heart it. But they poop a lot and where they want,not where they are supposed to poop😏