Being a toddler's and twos teacher, is most definitely rewarding. If I got to choose all over again which age group I wanted to teach, I will again say the toddler's and twos. I do have fun teaching all (preschool) ages, however with the toddlers and twos there is always extra challenge for me, and I like being on my toes because no two day is a like and every day is an eye opener. I am not going to lie and say every day is perfect...but every day is different and unique in its self.
A few of the challenges that I face at this age is the first day of school. Yep, the first day of school is always the hardest for everyone. Parents. Child. Teacher. Classmates. Everyone. For the most part, my class is the first time a child has been without their parents, well, since they were born. And if they were without their parent at any time, it was most likely with someone they knew...or at least their parent knew. So, trying to tell a child that they have to stay with "Aunty Charity" for the day when they themselves don't really know me, is hard. Add into the mixture other children who are already there who are crying for their parents and older siblings who have not yet started school and have tagged along to drop "baby" off, it's a hard thing. In those first few minutes of meeting the child, I try super hard to develop rapid rapport with not only the child, but with their parents and whoever sibling decided to come, all while trying to hold on to the x amount of children who are clinging onto me for comfort all while trying to explain to the parents the sign in/drop off procedure, all while trying to greet another family who has walked into my door. Did I mention that I had a crying bunch of darlings all clinging on to me as I try to direct what is going on? Oh yeah, and a smile on my face. Oh...and here comes another family with a terrified little one for their literal first day of school. Yes, the first day of school is hard.
Lucky for me, I get to experience that twice in one school year. Since our school offers part time scheduling for the children...I have my Monday/Wednesday/Friday set of kids and my Tuesday/Thursday set of kids. With only one child who comes full-time (for the time being).
I would just like to get it out there...that although I do not have any children of my own, I do see YOUR child as MY child...and it does make me sad and the strings of my heart do tighten just a bit when I hear a child crying for their parents and I do do everything that I can to comfort your child. And I am more sorry than you'll ever know that you have to walk away from your child for a few hours as you hear them crying out to you. Thank you for trusting me with you child...it is something that I do NOT take lightly....that trust in me. So, thank you.
Another challenge that I face at this age is words. Speech. Communication. I can communicate just fine...but your child is just learning and each child has a different and unique way of communicating...and it is a challenge for me to find out that way within the first few minutes of being with your child. I always encourage a child to use their word. I love it when they are talking/communicating to me. I may not know all the answers to the questions that they ask...but we have fun trying to find out the answer together. But it is a challenge trying to figure out what they are trying to say in-between them trying to hold it together (on that first day of school...first MONTH of school) to say something and amid the loud cries of their classmate friends. Did you know that there are many ways to say "daddy", "mommy," "grandma," "grandpa"...and that is just the tip of the iceberg...because they are also trying to tell me that they want their dog, cat, "lovie", and who knows what else. And it is my job to try to figure out what they are saying. I currently have a little darling who is super attached to his grandma whom he calls "BeeBee" and cries for her (loudly, I might add!) all the time when he thinks about her...however, I have another little darling who has twin sisters at home that she likes to talk about constantly...which, don't get me wrong, is VERY cool!...but her name for them is "Baby" (her parents have told me that she calls both twin's "Baby") So, whenever she starts talking about "Baby" my other little darling starts to cry for his "BeeBee"....I can't tell the little girl to stop talking about her "Baby" now, can I?! Oh, what to do?! Oh and, I'm helping potty train all these kids as well...yes, I need to learn the ways they communicate....fast!
This a very challenging age, however, I love it. Already in the third week of school, I am so proud of my little darlings...most of them are able to come to school more willingly than they did on the first day of school...a lot of them run up to me and give me huge hugs. They already know where their cubbies are, where to put their lunches, and where to put their water bottles. We are still working on a lot behavioral and emotional issues...but that's okay...that is what I am here for. We have a whole school year to work on that.
Some of the things that I have learned about this rowdy, yet fun and intelligent bunch of keiki is they love to paint...with their hands...paint anything with their hands. They all love it when I use a paint brush to paint their hands...they love that tickle-y sensation...:) Also, they love to climb...of course, I knew that about this age, it's a given...but they love the play structure that I have in my classroom...they have turned it into a train, mountain, roller coaster...and a stage where we do our "broadway" singing on it. And they ALL love to dance and sing. And I adore that. They are doing and understanding the concept of cleaning up after them selves...we are still working on that everything has it's own place...but at least they all work together to clean. I love how they are all used to it when I call out "water break", "bathroom break", "Freeze"...and they are slowly getting "attention!" (where when I call out "attention" they have to look at me and say "attention" back.) Another thing that I am SUPER proud of my keiki's of is that the fire alarm went off (unscheduled, because someone had pulled it!...not from the preschool area) and of course, one of a teacher's worst fear, is the children getting scared and running away to hid...especially since my kids have not yet experienced anything remotely close to anything like that...but instead of running away, they ran to me and I was able to usher all my keiki out to our school's designated safe place...I'm glad that they know that when they are scared, they can always run to me. Yep, first weeks or school is hard...but so worth it.
I am so blessed that I have amazing parents to. We did have our open house where we were able to meet and talk with all the parents (that were able to come) without having to worry about the children. And they were all very nice and also they did have a LOT of questions (a lot of them are first time parents, the majority of them have just moved to the island--being military families). But I am happy to say that I was able to talk with all my parents and they were able to meet each other and have even planned some play dates for their kids...and I'm happy for that.
Today, one of my parents stopped me and told me how much she appreciated me. Without trying to sound conceited or cocky or anything...I think that I am a pretty good teacher. I love what I do, and it's my passion. However, I won't get hurt if someone criticizes the way I teach...because I do everything for a reason and can stand my ground, but I am also one that will welcome all kinds of suggestions and ideas. One thing about this job is that you are always learning and finding out new ways of doing things...and I like that. But sometimes it's good to know that you are appreciated. In anything you do, actually...it doesn't take that much to say a kind word to make a persons day...
But as I mentioned, a parent stopped by to tell me how much she appreciated me and that she acknowledged the influence that I have on her son and just to say thank you...and then she gave me this plaque.
And on the back her son "decorated" it for me...and a few nice words of thanks to me...and I appreciate that. It's good to know that I'm doing something good and that parents do see that we do love their children and that our goal for them is to not only succeed in life but to also get out of it as much as they can.
"I call my students 'my kids' because in our year together they aren't just kids on my class list, they become a part of my heart."