Teaching in Early Childhood: Too Much to Remember?
By: BRENDA TRUNKHILL
There’s so much pressure for educators today that kindergarten is now the new first grade. Today, don’t focus on all the things the children need to learn and remember. . . . Instead, remember that your students and you need to have fun, be creative, and PLAY! Take time to enjoy the process of learning.
We all want the children in our classroom to build a great foundation for the future, to learn as much as they can while in our care, and to reach their full potential, right? We love children and want what’s best for them, but that puts a lot of pressure on us. It probably comes as no surprise that, as well-meaning parents, teachers, and leaders, somehow we’ve pushed first grade skills down to kindergarten, as researchers revealed last month. There’s a lot we want our children to remember, right? Yes, but . . .
We’re early childhood educators, and we know how important PLAY is because that’s how they learn and remember! I need reminding of this every day. . . . It’s when we step back and enjoy the children, observing the learning that’s taking place, that we are often the most effective. Leave the pressures behind today and just enjoyteaching. That’s why you started teaching, remember? You enjoy the children!
Let them play. You didn’t start lunch exactly at 11:30? Don’t beat yourself up! The blocks didn’t get put away? It’s okay to let the children work on a project and expand on it all week long! You gave them an “extra” fifteen minutes outside? Trust me, the Preschool Police will not come after you! Let the children learn.
I know we seem to get mixed signals. I should probably go to sessions at Control-Freak-Teachers Anonymous too. I’m a curriculum editor, so I love to have meticulously designed lesson plans that all reinforce over-arching goals and objectives. And the CPH early childhood curriculum, One in Christ, is intentionally designed to provide a comprehensive, chronological survey of the Bible. Its units are specifically coordinated with themes, and its activities are specifically aligned with standards. There are loads of planning helps on the CPH website.
But today, please . . . let it go and follow the child’s lead. You do not have to “get through” a lesson each day. Each day, you teach life lessons as redeemed children of God, who are growing in their relationship with their heavenly Father and with one another. At Circle Time, you “only” had time to talk about and pray for Matthew at the death of his pet dog? THAT was your lesson! That’s what he will remember. Your class wants to sing the Jesus song again?? Center Time can wait! Elizabeth just pushed Kaley? Don’t feel like you have to wait until Jesus Time to discuss the Jonathan and David friendship story to address concerns.
Enjoy the children and their exploration today. Give them time to learn and enjoy the learning process. And remember, you can play too!
This month, I’m in our community theater’s production of the musical Mary Poppins with my daughter. It has been so . . . much . . . fun! I get to parade around wearing a humongous hat and a super-long sequined dress with gloves and a mink wrap, carry a dog puppet, and talk like I’m on Downton Abbey. What’s not to love?
When’s the last time you let your inner child loose? What’s your creative outlet? How do you play? When do you give yourself time to act, sing, draw, write, design, arrange, and create? Be sure it’s with the kids in your own classroom! But share your creativity within your school, church, and at home too. And for sure, have funwith your co-workers and the parents of your children. It’s okay to be silly and enjoy your job and the people you work with!
You cracked a joke at a meeting? (If it was in good taste) You don’t need to feel guilty about it. You took fifteen minutes of your lesson prep time to listen to a co-worker’s health problems? Your lesson will be just fine. You went over your personal classroom decorating budget and/or were twenty minutes late for supper? Well, I can’t smooth things out with your spouse :), but I bet it sure feels good to see what you’ve designed!
So let your hair down today. Get in there with the kids and don a costume, stick a puppet on your hand, change your voice, and remember that it’s fun to be silly and it’s fun to be a teacher. That’s why you started teaching, remember?
Having control of your classroom doesn’t mean we have to stop playing and having fun. And having control of your children’s educational experience doesn’t meanthey have to stop playing and having fun. That’s something worth remembering!
Concordia Publishing House (CPH) is the publishing arm of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. For 145 years, CPH has provided individuals, churches, and schools with products that are faithful to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. From books and Bibles to church supplies, curriculum, and software, CPH offers more than 8,000 products to support the proclamation of the Gospel worldwide. Visit CPH online at cph.org.