Dear Tom, It sounds like Tina is a leader in your class. She is forceful, assertive, and intimidating. She gives preferred treatment to certain children and organizes - and controls -- their play. While she may not be the most popular child in the class, the others are probably drawn to her. To top it off, she is so independent she doesn't seem to need you.
At this point in the year, the best approach to tempering Tina's bossiness is to focus on strengthening the other children's independence. Here are some ideas:
Assign leadership roles to the rest of the class. Develop rotating tasks, such as line leader or snack server, so all the children have a chance to lead the group. Play games, such as Simon Says or follow-the-leader, in which everyone takes turns guiding the class.
Join children's play. Participate in the children's dramatic play, for example, using your presence to ensure that the other children's voices are heard. When Tina assigns roles or dictates the theme of the play, ask the others if they have suggestions too.
Develop new themes for dramatic play. To break the cycle of Tina's always playing an authoritarian parent, try connecting dramatic play to other themes. If you're exploring food, for example, have children set up a restaurant and assign them roles.
Provide new activities and materials to explore. Offering a variety of interesting options will entice some of Tina's followers to try new things. Participate in these activities to make sure that Tina doesn't take over.
Have children choose activities. At the end of group time, let children know what the day's choices are for free play. Go around the circle, asking the children to choose the activity they want to participate in. This will ensure that everyone has a chance to express his or her preference.