Sunday, August 25, 2013

Children, or How I've Made a Career out of Playing.

I'm a Preschool Director. I'm also a Preschool teacher. I've been working with the tiny humans for almost 9 years. Believe it or not, starting and running my very own Preschool is something that I have daydreams about. I love being around kids. I love their snotty noses and their cheeks and their sparkly eyes and the way they can't pronounce their 'r's or their 'th's and the way they don't care if your hair is dirty or your socks don't match. I love the way they hug you and the way they listen when you talk as if they have never heard anything quite as magical as what you've just said. I love their innocence and their earnestness and their purity and their perfect smiles.

I love all kids, because I believe all children have something to teach us.

Now, most moms give me this strange look when I tell them that I love teaching every single day. And not just teaching. Teaching toddlers and preschoolers. Let me just tell you, that is not always a pleasant age. So when I testify (hallelujah) that I absolutely love teaching and I adore children, I get this somewhat suspicious look. It's as if other moms are thinking, "This one is batty. I can't even handle my own kids half the time. How can she say that she loves hanging out with other peoples' kids all day??"

I have a somewhat ambiguous answer for this and then I have a very pointed answer.

Children are amazing. They see things in a way that adults simply CANNOT see them. They see a leaf as a vessel for fairies to fly from one tree to another, unnoticed. They see a rock as a toad in disguise, hiding from the evil snake king. They see glitter as magic dust. They see a popsicle stick as a princess wand or a sword. Their imaginations are totally unbridled and it's beautiful. They are completely immune to hatred or greed or sadness or guilt or shame or disappointment or bigotry or resentment. They are delightful little creatures with the biggest hearts, the brightest brains, and the best hugs imaginable.

Here is the more pointed answer, which I have spent years studying and why I have dedicated the rest of my life to working with kids and working within the child care/Preschool system to ensure that ALL CHILDREN receive quality education from an early age.

Kids have reached exponential brain development by age 3. By age 5, they've pretty much developed their personalities, and by age 8, they have basically become the tiny versions of their future selves. So much incredible development takes place between birth and 8, it's unbelievable. Scientists and researchers and educators haven't even made all the connections yet. There are things about behavior in children that we are still learning. Children are still very much a mystery, and why they do the things that they do can be chalked up to two things: nature and nurture. Nature is what they're born with: genetics, traumatic birth, family history, etc. Nurture is what's taught to them; the values instilled on them, discipline, language, integrity, etc.

There is a very, very small window in which we get the opportunity to teach children all about the world, including how they should treat themselves and others. Many people believe that if we do this wrong, we do irreversible damage. Telling a child repeatedly that she is stupid is going to yield one result: that child will believe that she is stupid. However, telling a child repeatedly that she is a beautiful, worthwhile creature will yield one result: that child will believe that she can change the world.

I teach because I know that, even in small doses, the things a child learns in school teaches him or her that what they do matters. By telling a child that I like his art project will instill a faith in himself and his abilities, and he will believe that he can do great things. By snuggling a child while reading a book and asking her to tell me what she thinks is happening, I am teaching her that what she thinks matters, and that she can change the story if she wants to, if she believes in herself.

I hope that, by teaching, I am telling children that they matter. I hope that's the case, because in 20 or 30 years, if those same children feel like they matter, they will turn around and help others feel like they matter, too. They will use their feelings of being worthwhile to help someone else feel worthwhile, too. If I can do this for even one child, then I have succeeded.

I am in the business of building children. Not raising children - building them. Building their character, building their confidence, building their strengths, building their future.

Brooke + JuneBug

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