"I want to play now." "It's my turn." "You're hogging the computer. It's not fair." Probably every teacher has heard these refrains. Sometimes children have a hard time sharing the computer with friends. After all, in most cases, there is only one mouse. If your students are having difficulties sharing, here are three suggestions to help foster more cooperative habits:
1. Think About Your Room Arrangement
The physical location of your computer can influence how it is used. For example, keeping the computer in a central location, rather than an isolated corner, is likely to increase children's socialization. Keep several chairs — not just one — by the computer. Some teachers use an old piano bench (just saw off the legs if they are too high) instead of a single chair so that as many as three children can share the experience.
2. Watch Out for Computer Hogs
Guess what? Some children will want to dominate the computer! Make sure that all the children in the class are properly introduced to a new computer activity so that there is more than one expert on the new program. As a last resort, you can keep a timer near the computer — one with a bell works best. This gives the children a clear signal when their computer time is up.
3. Choose Software Carefully
Give two children one tricycle, and you may have a fight on your hands. But give them a wagon, and they'll become best friends. That's because the wagon has two clear roles — you ride, I'll pull. Depending on the software you choose, your classroom computer can be a wagon or a tricycle. Fortunately, there are a number of programs that foster cooperation and sharing and thus promote social development as well. It turns out that some of the best programs for sharing are the ones that give children a way to participate — by singing along, helping to remember a detail, or making a suggestion.