An article from Sesame Street In Communities notes, "Adults often talk about tough situations in order to understand them; children do so by playing. You may notice children playing ‘superheroes and villains’ (or ‘good guys and bad guys’) as they build their understanding of the way people act and ideas of right and wrong. This is a chance for you to step in and help them feel safer and more in control."
In Pursuing Bad Guys, Donna King chronicles the remarkable year-long exploration of ‘bad guys’ by the children in her program, Children First, and her own parallel journey to reflect on her role and co-create both curriculum and community with the children in her care. Her story opens with the children’s play just prior to welcoming a new cohort of classmates. The children call themselves ‘nightmares’ and ‘bad guys’ and mix up ‘poison’ to ‘kill bad strangers.’
King writes, "Sure, the content seems dark. But the energy of the players is relaxed and light, flowing in an easy dance of dialogue and action, grounded in the children’s sense of belonging in this place and with each other."
She goes on to note, "It’s not just ‘permissible mischief.’ The game provides a safe way to metabolize problematic feelings and impulses. Pretending is like releasing a big deep breath; it clears tension, and frees up the emotional energy that children need to become the decent people they aspire to be. For this reason and many more, Children First teachers have always supported the children’s play about serious content, including their play about badness in all its forms."
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How do you handle “bad guys?” Join a yearlong, child-led investigation of goodness and badness, real and pretend, safety and courage. Expand your practice as you learn alongside a passionate and creative teacher, who takes risks and shares the outcomes as this energizing story unfolds.
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