We can probably all agree that “yes, please” is a lovely answer to that question. In Montessori classrooms we also find that “no thank you, I’ll let you know when it’s back on the shelf” can be wonderful in its own way. Here, each toy (we call them materials) on the shelf is a shared material. Children choose what they’d like to play with and are welcome to use it until they are finished. Children can and do choose to play together and can choose to play independently. Allowing a child to choose to share if they feel ready and inclined provides children with a clear sense of security. They do not need to guard or defend to hold on to their chosen material. Finishing what you are playing with allows for the development of focus, concentration and the ability to see a lesson through to the end.
Playing/working together is a pleasure when both children agree they want to do it. What is essential and required is that the child who wants to play alone then lets the other know the material is available. Sharing is caring and “sequential sharing” brings its own pleasure too.