Some of my friends cannot fathom spending 8 hours a day with 20 preschoolers. I, on the other hand, cannot fathom spending 8 hours a day with 20 adults. We all find what we love in this life, and I love being around kids.
And as far as teaching goes, it's a two way street. I've learned as much from them as they (hopefully) have learned from me.
So with apologies to Robert Fulghum, here are Five Awesome Things I've Learned From My Preschool Students:
1. NAPS ARE AMAZING. There have been times when a child's head is spinning around, Exorcist-style and they've spent the whole morning alternating between destroying other kid's block towers and apologizing for destroying said block towers. Nap time comes, and that same kid wakes up so transformed that his farts have halos. Rest=Restoration.
2. WORRY ABOUT YOURSELF. This is the standard response when someone approaches us with breaking news about somebody who is doing something wrong. Or if they notice a classmate taking a teacher-administered break. A lot of us (present company included) waste irreplaceable chunks of our lives worrying about what other people are doing or thinking or saying. We could all benefit from worrying less about others and more about ourselves.
3. USE YOUR WORDS. "Miss Jenny! She said I'm a poop head!" "Miss Jenny! I was making a tower with blocks and he smashed it down!" "Miss Jenny! She budged in line!" What do you think I say when these scenarios present themselves throughout the course of the day? Yep. "Use your words." We teach the kids to stand up for themselves, to be talkers instead of shovers, to look one another in the eye and communicate verbally. In this online world we live in, the power of the spoken word coupled with eye contact is often overlooked and undervalued.
4. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT COLOR CUP YOU HAVE, AKA: YOU GET WHAT YOU GET AND YOU DON'T THROW A FIT. We offer milk and water in cups at lunchtime. There are several colors of cups available. For the first few lunches, there are cries of horror as a blue cup or a pink cup or a yellow cup is placed in front of the hungry and thirsty children. Listen, if we let each kid "pick a color", lunchtime would last an eternity. And since nap time follows lunchtime, believe me when I say we like for it to be an enjoyable, but brief, affair. When one of my young charges lets me know that he cannot possibly drink his milk from an orange cup, I ask him if his milk would taste any different if it was in a yellow cup. Or a blue one. Or the pink one. They figure it out by the end of that first week.
Sometimes we don't get exactly what we want. Sometimes we have a preconceived notion of what will work in our lives, and what won't. Sometimes we still foolishly believe that we have control over the universe. Sometimes we have to drink out of the orange cup. And that's not the end of the world.
5. WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. I've seen entire days ruined because of too-tight velcro sneakers or sparkly Mary Janes that rubbed tiny little heels raw. Happiness starts from the ground up, my friends, and sore tootsies make for a very unhappy day. I get some crap for my fleet of unsexy shoes: Danskos, Keens, FitFlops...but my feet feel like buttah all the live long day. And that's why I'm almost always smiling. Well, that and martinis.
So you see, aside from getting my recommended daily allowance of hugs, the thrill of watching a child learn to string a bead, read a word or learn to count to 100, I get priceless life lessons from these wee little people.
I love these kids...and I love my job.