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My experience as a preschool teacher:

I work part time as a pre-school teacher and daycare provider for 12 children. They range in Age from 2-6 for the most part. I have decided that I am going to write down the most interesting things that happen regarding the kids and the situations that arise and questions they ask me throughout the day. Hopefully this will give us all some good entertainment or perhaps insight into child development, ourselves, our children, or teach us something useful.

DAY 1

Today started off with the kids coloring and writing with pencils. They all had jumbo erasers on the ends of them and seemed to love them. When they got up to walk around and sing a kids song I noticed that most of them were holding the pointy end up so I instructed them to turn them over which they did fairly easily and without hesitation. We decided to change the words to the kids song from flag to pencil because we were all holding pencils in our hands as we marched around singing instead of flags like the song would suggest. The kids loved this idea and laughed and smiled because of the change we had made. The kids love the be creative and anything abnormal to them is a good thing so long as it is done in a happy and fun way. It is more about the mood, tone, and structure of what is going on than about anything else really. Here is a prime example. Once we changed the words to pencil they started making all sorts of other changes and giggling each one coming up with their own funny alteration to the song and singing it. Now we allowed this and they loved it, but if we had said “oh no you can’t make changes you have to sing it the original way” they would have followed our directions but probably have been frustrated or confused by them. Kids have a hard enough time learning the rules without the rule makers changing them based on their mood.

So essentially what I learned from that experience is that kids like to be creative and have fun. They like to learn new things and grow, but they also like to be abstract and goofy just to be funny or artistic in their own way. This in my opinion should NEVER be shunned. When you tell a kid they cannot be creative you might as well just tell them that they are going to be boring mindless robots that follow orders their entire life. They are quick to realize this and will rebel sooner or later. This is exactly why I will level with kids and tell them that they can be as creative as they want so long as they can make it work in society (amongst their leaders, peers, and other people they come into contact with). I use easy to understand words of course and most of what I am saying here is not really displayed through words, but through understanding and actions. You see, I believe that kids are brilliant and like sponges. They are constantly observing their environment and trying to find out how things work, what brings them happiness, what doesn’t, and other questions they might have.

Children are looking for role models

I haven’t read a ton of books or received high level education regarding kids, but I did pick up some valuable experience you know… BEING ONE! I also lived in a 12 child daycare the same one that I now work at part time (yes, I work with my mother so I get to see her nearly every day, isn’t that adorable). Anyway, before I get further off topic my point is that kids are brilliant and they learn so much every day. With all of this learning going on they tend to have to make a lot of judgment calls on what is right and wrong in terms of how to act in society. They look to their elders for guidance in these areas because they assume that since we are their care takers that we know the best solution to everything and can tell them how things are or how they should be in the world. This is a great assumption for kids to have and they will keep it so long as they can justify it. What I mean is that if you constantly teach a kid to do bad things and everyone else teaches them the opposite they will eventually realize that you are teaching them poorly and stop listening to you. This is good because it allows society to teach when parents or caretakers do a poor job.

With children basing their actions and learning off of their parents, siblings, and other “roll models” they tend to do a lot of copying and trial and error. For example if you use potty words, they are going to give it a try. If you hit or bite, they will hit or bite, it is actually quite adorable and flattering when you realize that your kids are trying to be just like you. This is normally wonderful, but it can become a problem when the roll models are not being well “perfect”. If you get angry in front of your kid you are directly teaching your kid to react to his anger in the same way you choose to react in that moment that they witness. Literally everything you do near or with your kid is being recorded by them and reasoned according to a very limited logic. So the next time you do something that you wouldn’t want your kid to do please keep this in mind. If you do something and then tell your child not to they are not going to listen to you because it is self-contradicting. The only way that would work is if you explained to your child in a way they can understand and believe that you made a mistake and that you have realized it, but even then they sometimes feel like if you made the mistake that they can afford to make it too.

Three other things happened today that were notable. First was one if the younger children could not do their shoes and wanted my help. Instead of just putting his shoes on like is so often done by adults in these situations I step by step slowly showed him what he needs to do making sure he was paying attention and understanding the entire way (this took several minutes). Then I undid the shoes and let him try. On the first shoe he got stuck so I helped him and then undid my work and let him complete it again. By the second shoe he had done it 100% by himself and I gave him a high five. Now, we shall see tomorrow if he can get further than he did today with regard to his shoes. Do I expect perfection… No, but I do expect progress. I will update you if I remember, but either way I’m certain he learned something from the experience which is really all I was going for. The second thing that happened really bothered me. An older 5 year old was playing with a balloon and so was his two year old brother. The 5 year old and two year old agreed to toss them up in the air and try to catch them at the same time, this was not an issue. The issue was that when the balloons were tossed the 5 year old caught both balloons and then walked away laughing. His brother followed him screaming and whining for nearly a minute and this would have continued until the younger one gave up and either hit him or cried. This is something that I don’t fully understand since the 5 year old was playing so well with his brother only moments before.

This second thing causes problems in the future because now the younger one has anger, and distrust towards his older brother. I had them make up, but I know that deep inside this was not resolved for either of them. Why did the 5 year old do that in the first place? Was he just being playful? Was he wanting to pester his younger brother and make him cry? Was he mad at something the younger one has done in the past? Was it for attention? Did he see role models doing this in the past? These were all questions that crossed my mind. So I asked the 5 year old and he really couldn’t come up with anything to say. He knew he had done something wrong, but really didn’t have a reason he was illing to share with me as to why he had done it in the first place. I am hoping we can move on from here, but I feel like whatever caused him to do that in the first place needs to be resolved if we are to make any lasting improvements because irritating someone like that is very toxic and I doubt it was just something the 5 year old decided on doing because he thought it was the “proper” thing to do.

The third thing that happened today was a confusing issue for me because I honestly didn’t know how to handle it. Here is what happened: After their afternoon snack the kids got bored waiting for other kids to finish eating before being dismissed and eventually one started making a fart noise. This immediately went viral because it was so darn amusing to the kids. I know that the kids were doing this to be funny and to sort of show their insubordination for having to sit and wait for other kids to finish eating and I understand that completely. The problem lies in whether or not that is truly acceptable behavior. I personally don’t really care if they make fart noises, but I know that should their parents ever be at dinner and the same thing happens and they start making fart noises that they are going to be very unhappy with the kids. I told them not to do it because it was not good table manners and they said that it wasn’t bothering anyone and they all liked it. I have always said that so long as you are safe, not bothering anyone that your behavior is not too much a concern of mine. Meaning that I won’t punish a kid for making jokes or being playful or creative so long as it isn’t causing a negative influence to himself or others. With fart noises though, it does bother someone, me. It bothers me because I know that their parents are not going to want to see them doing that and that they are currently making fart noises as role models back and forth to each other as well as the younger children. This is the best reasoning I had on the issue and to be honest I tried to explain this in a meaningful way that kids can understand, but the bottom line is that sometimes kids just don’t care.

Kids want to have freedom to do what they please and they want to be the judge of whether or not it is right or wrong. I can understand that philosophy, also, children don’t always follow logical arguments in terms of why certain behaviors are unacceptable in society such as fart noises at the table because being polite and having manners is not something that is important to them. This is something that we need to instil upon them while doing our best to maintain their freedoms and ability to self govern. Heck, I would like to believe that getting the message across to just one of these kids would have stopped the whole thing because that child would then have told them he didn’t like the fart noises and that it was rude. Funny it just ends up that that child was me, and it is my job as a role model to be the bigger child. The adult and teach the kids proper behavior.

Day 2

Today was an interesting day in the daycare. I arrived and immediately the youngest child there came to me pulled up his pant leg and pointed to his right leg as if he had just hurt it. He was whimpering and motioning to the leg. I was surprised and concerned naturally and asked what had happened. The other workers told me that he was just acting out what his older brother had done about 30 minutes prior. This to me was a shock. I knew that younger children often acted out their older siblings behaviors, but to pretend to be hurt just because his brother had some pain in his leg earlier in the day was a stretch for me. I immediately went into where the older one was (by the way this is the same 5 year old and 2 year old from yesterday) and I asked him what had happened. He said that he didn’t know for sure what caused it or when it started, but that it hurt and was frustrating him. Eventually after more questioning I dropped it, but I did not forger that his younger brother had acted that out for me. Later on in the day a few more things happened that are worth noting I would say 4 notable lessons were learned today for myself and the kids. Lesson #1 was learned when we decided that we wanted to play with the action figures. We had just finished our morning snack and the older boys went into the game room to play with some show and tell action figures they had brought in (by the way, we had a show and tell today and every boy brought in action figures surprisingly). Well the kids started playing with action figures and I immediately realized that they weren’t playing very friendly. They were beating each other’s toys up and saying they were going to kill Darth Vader one of the toys that had been brought in. When I asked them to play nicely they ignored me, so I decided to play and was given the Darth Vader toy. They proceeded to try and kill my toy hitting it with what they said was hot lava and smashing it with their feet (the feet of their toys not their actual feet). Once I realized that they were not going to stop abusing my toy I flipped a switch by acting completely nice with the toy and trying to build them a soccer stadium out of blocks. They liked this idea and valued how nice my character was being. After about 10 minutes of constant positive role modeling out of the Darth Vader toy the boys began to look to it as a leader and a good guy. No longer was there any fighting or killing, it was all about having fun, playing soccer, and building a home for all the toys to share together. This lasted until one boy decided he wanted to be the new bad guy out of the group and purposely be annoying and bothersome hoping we would get mad and fight him. He was pretending to sleep in the middle of our game, trying to bash toys to start a fight, and also lying constantly about why he didn’t want to have fun and play soccer with us or build a cave to live in. We ignored him for a long time until it got to the point where he was really being obnoxious and then I told him that my toy was going to get his momma so she could take care of his behavior. I grabbed a dinosaur toy and had it reprimand him saying that we don’t like and we don’t do things that bother other people. He said that we were lying and that we just wanted to get him in trouble (which is funny because it actually is the same response a lot of trouble making boys make when I do tell their parents that they were being problematic. They will say that the other kids were lying or that they were to blame and not him.

As the mother dinosaur I decided to pretend that I didn’t already know he was being rude and annoying so I decided to ask the other toys for an honest history of events. The other kids with the other figures quickly came to a consensus that the boy was indeed lying and so it was easy to call him out on it. I told the boy who was lying (as his mother dinosaur) that there are only a few rules to follow in order to have a fun playing experience with others. “What do you think these rules are? Can you come up with these rules kids?” I asked… They all agreed that rule 1. Was no lying. You should never lie even if others do and you should try to call them out on it if you know someone else is lying. To determine if someone is lying you can often ask others and see if the story matches up. 2. Was to never be mean. This seems easy enough, but I decided to take it a step further and explain that even know people make mistakes or are sometimes mean themselves such as this boy who kept wanting to ruin our soccer game it is important that we do not do the same. A person can be as mean as they want and we should still remain nice. Perhaps try to figure out why they are being mean. If that person cannot be reasoned with I asked what we should do and the response was to leave to play somewhere else or to tell a third party (typically an adult in this case).

I really thought it was amazing how the simple change from smash bash fighting of action figures had turned into a lesson about how to act properly in a group setting so that everyone can play peacefully and happily. The last rule was a very tough one to come up with and it involved dealing with disagreements that were not based on lies. Here is what happened. One of the 5 year olds was arguing with another 5 year old because one said it was time for night and another said it was still daytime. They refused to agree on a time of day and still wanted to play as a group so separation was not an option. I asked them how this can be worked out amongst them and they said that it can’t, no matter what someone will be unhappy. So I told them that I know a way that everyone can be happy and they looked at me in disbelief. It is called compromising I said. It means that you agree to do what the other person wants sometimes and then they agree to do what you want sometimes and neither of you complain when it is not your turn to decide what to do. In this case it was deciding if it was day or night, so we flipped a block for fairness top was day and bottom night. Kids are really intelligent and social. They will almost always agree to abide by rules that they see as fair and equal to all. This is why it is so easy for me to work with kids because I have always been similar in my belief that everyone should be treated equally (except in cases where it is simply not possible).

Lesson #2. Lesson #2 was just an extension of the morning play session really. I had taught the boys that there were certain rules to be followed and that everyone should follow them. If someone isn’t following them is the responsibility of everyone else to reprimand that person and force them to be excommunicated for awhile or to apologize and follow the rules after making the apology. There were no exceptions, even their parents should be treated in the same way and should be expected to follow the rules as well. This worked out surprising well for the remainder of the day as the kids seemed to be doing this more themselves and relying on me less with the exception of dealing with the two year olds who simply can’t understand what is going on mostly. Lesson two to be more specific was that kids expect adults to follow the rules and be fair as well. I noticed at afternoon snack that the younger kids wanted to be done and go play. They were getting antsy and had stopped eating for a few minutes. They were looking for a way to leave but they knew they could not be excused until they were finished with their snacks. Now the way it works is that if you are an older kid you can be excused if you finish or if you say that you are done and have made a reasonable effort to eat some of the food. The older kids were finishing and getting to go play, but the younger ones were still sitting there with food on their plates. The youngest ones saw the older ones leave and so now knew that they should be able to leave too if they weren’t going to eat more.

They decided to show a sign that they were done by pushing their food away from them and I realized immediately that they should be let leave. However, I was not in charge and so did not act on this and let the other workers do what they wanted. The other workers said that they can’t leave until they eat their snack and left them sitting there for 5 minutes as they began to get very upset and cry. Eventually the other workers let them go and not a single bite more of their food had been eaten, so it was really a waste of 5 minutes and an act of unfairness. The younger ones as a result were acting up a lot after snack and the older ones were just fine. The thing I noticed most was that they younger ones were going to enact justice by acting up to pay us back for making them sit there an extra 5 minutes. This is how bad things spiral into worse things because if you are not aware of why this is going on you will further punish the child and they will further act up as payback. It is always important to treat people fairly and equally and if you can communicate with them to do so as much as possible so they can understand why you’re doing the things they don’t like.

Lesson #3 The third lesson of the day was a big one for me. I realized for the first time that the younger children should not be coddled and protected as much as I had been protecting them and that they should also not be told not to do things as much as I was telling them not to do things. Here is an example, a young child decides to climb up on something. Usually I would grab him down and say no, we don’t climb on whatever it was. Well, it turns out that it is not fair because the other kids are allowed to climb on these same things so why shouldn’t the toddlers. Well the reason seems simple to most people. The toddlers are not safe on those same climbing toys because they toddlers are too young and undeveloped ad so are much more likely to fall and get hurt. This is true and I can’t argue against it however it is also not the best policy. Here is why… If you tell a toddler her can’t climb on something then he is going to stop doing it and if he stops doing it how will he ever learn how to do it. At what age would you draw the line for climbing on things and can you keep this fair for all of the children? The best answer seems to be to let them do what they want so long as it is within a reasonable range of safety and should they fall they will learn their lesson. Now try to be near them and keep an eye out in-case you might be able to catch them because falling and being caught is still just as much of a lesson as falling and not being caught. There is no reason to let your kid get hurt if you can help it…

Once I started letting the younger ones do what they wanted and stopped reprimanding them for dumb things like being too loud with hammer toys, climbing on toys, or exploring on other ways I found that it was a lot more peaceful, they responded better to me when I did reprimand them for something that they should clearly be reprimanded for like pushing another child, and the entire experience for everyone was improved. The kids were learning more by exploring more, happier because everything was more fair, and felt like they had freedom which is something that they should have to be honest. We as parents or providers are there to make sure that our kids learn, are healthy, are safe, and are happy for the most part. That is all we need to assure. We don’t need to boss them around all of the time and tell them to act like robots because when you do that to a kid or anyone for that matter they are going to hate it and not respect you for enforcing such unrealistic and ignorant expectations.

Lesson #4 Kids are sometimes just going to do the wrong thing. Today I spent a lot of time trying to teach fairness and politeness, and how to be a good friend to other kids. They did great, but every now and again especially with the younger ones there would be a small quarrel over a toy or an accident of some kind, or a disagreement about something completely small to an adult, but large to a child such as who gets to play with the cars first. We had an Easter egg hunt today and the kids really liked searching for and opening up the Easter eggs. It was a blast except that sometimes kids would get to the same egg at the same time and utter my favorite of all words MINE! This is the thing that will drive a parent or provider crazy. How can you deal with two kids who have equal rights to one object that they both feel is theirs. The answer in short is they have to share or take turns. This is what I have told the older ones and they get it, but the younger ones don’t and so they do not share. They do the wrong thing and yell, push, scream, cry, and sometimes steal to get back at other kids who have wronged them previously. This is their version of justice and so it is fine that they do it, but not in that way. The question that I still haven’t solved is how can you really teach a kid that is so young that they can’t really understand you. I found this to be quite a perplexing issue until I stumbled across a very interesting and funny solution. Here is what happened, a two year old was on the couch rolling around having fun and the youngest kid we have who is not quite two yet was standing nearby playing. He two year old boy kicked the almost two year old girl by accident while rolling and she stood there shocked expecting an apology I suppose. She waited about 30 seconds, and then decided to cry. I picked her up and told the boy what he did which he didn’t even realize he had done. He first tried to run away, but then I called him back and told him to make it right. He came over and gave her a kiss on the head and that was his way of making it right. She did not at first understand and so pushed him away right after the apology and he got mad. I explained to him it was an accident and he came to give her a hug. This time she realized and hugged him back and after that everything was perfect. Now if the kids don’t communicate you can’t do a darn thing, but I find that even two year olds are capable of communicating with one another in ways that we simply cannot do with a two year old and ourselves. This is probably because they see each other as equals and they see us as parenting figures. Either way the point is sometimes kids just need a little direction in terms of doing the right thing. Once they understand that 90% of their problems come directly from their own actions and the consequences of them then they can apply that to themselves and their peers and eventually come to a harmonious point where they don’t cause problems for others. If an accident happens they don’t get as mad because they realize it is an accident because why would anyone ever do anything mean on purpose. Now if someone does something mean on purpose and has no explanation then hands down they need to have consequences. This is something so far that has not changed for me growing up and I don’t expect will ever change in my lifetime. I understood this as a kid and kids understand it still today. It is fair and needs to be enforced by not only the adult, but by the kids as well amongst themselves.

Education


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