As a preschool teacher, there are many moments that are so rewarding and others, that are difficult, unsolvable, frustrating, and exhausting. People always ask, what is it that I am teaching. I often say, “Teaching them how to be human.” It’s more about teaching them how to be a communicative, kind, open, confident, self-loving human being than teaching them anything else. Since I work in the afternoons now, I observe and interact with pretty much the whole school. Most of the children at our school stay late as part of the extended care and either are solely playing or part of afternoon activities like dance, gymnastics, art, , and sports. While we are outside in the play yard, we are playing and watching the children but mostly doing our best to put out fires, so to speak with the children. The ages of the kiddos are 2-5 year olds. Most of them are the older children so it makes it interesting to work with them since during the morning, I am only with 2 year olds. I love all ages of children and find there to be different challenges with each age group as well as positives with all them.
One day in particular, two girls came up to me about 4 or 5 years old, and were having an argument and made each other upset. There was a third child involved as well and just so you know, the girl dynamics at this age are not too far off from mean girls. They all want to fit in but sometimes choose another friend to play with and then of course, the other gets upset and says, “we’re not friends anymore.” So these are the fires we help to put out everyday and of course boys have these types of fights too, but they do tend to be different. Okay, back to the story. so they came up to me and I had them both sit on my lap as we began to talk about what happened. Since they are both frustrated and upset, they want to talk at the same time. Yet, it is difficult to hear them when they talk at once, so I used a little trick of mine (as well as other great teachers I know too use this as well) of using an object to be the Talking Stick. Since I didn’t have my magic wand that I usually use to be the talking stick, I decided to use my chakra bracelet. I explained to the girls that we all get to wear it and have a turn to talk. They quickly agreed and understood and began taking turns with the bracelet. It was really amazing to see how well this worked and it helped us all to express ourselves and be heard. I also wore the bracelet when I felt it was necessary to say something, but I mostly let them pass it back and forth and I was just the one to hold the space for them to work through it together. It was a great moment of reflection for me that my main goal is to teach children how to problem solve on their own and learn how to work through conflicts. If I were to have just said, “Let her play with you.” or “Just ignore him.” or decide for them in some way, then there wouldn’t have been much learning involved for anyone. I helped them solve it on their own but with tools of listening, attentiveness, and compassion. Through my daily experiences with children, I am always learning and doing my best to reflect on the choices that I make. Sometimes, I feel like the day was great and I really shaped one or hopefully more children that day. Other days, I feel not so great about how I handled some moments with the kids. It is not easy peezy lemon squeeze. Teachers do not get enough credit for the work that we do. Parents don’t get enough credit either! Children are incredible human beings and are so much fun and great to be around. Yet, at the same time, there is a lot of pressure of the adults to shape their environment in a healthy way. We make choices everyday that unfortunately/fortunately affect each other, especially little ones. Through our responses to them and to the way we either play with them or guide them or observe them, we are informing them and their brains, on how to exist in this world. That is a lot of fucking pressure! But it is worth every minute of it. Thank goodness for children and for teaching teachers and everyone how to be conscious and aware of each other and ourselves. I hope to always want to continue to learn about them and be with them and be challenged by them!
Thank you for listening and joining me in my reflections!
Rachael Anne Singer, always a child at heart.