However, lots of questions arise when teachers begin incorporating free-choice play centers. One of the questions I receive often as an instructional coach, is in regards to setting limits of the number of students at centers. My answer is that students will work it out on their own. Children truly will work through the issues that arise when too many are at one center. If they need assistance, it is the role of the teacher to guide students' to finding positive ways to solve problems, settle disputes and manage social interactions. If we, as the teachers, control each learning experience, then the students never have the opportunity to navigate through social issues themselves.
What are your experiences with students navigating the social issues around free-choice of centers? How do you guide them through the disputes that may occur? What are some examples from your own classrooms where students worked through the issues on their own?