By Beth Pinyerd

I know as a community we have experienced a very hot summer. We have welcomed the temporary coolness of an afternoon shower. This Friday, July 29, is recognized as Rain Day.

I absolutely love to go to the Early Childhood Classroom, rain or shine. Early childhood teachers make our plans way in advance for our classrooms. One natural event that brings much-needed water and nourishment to our earth, but disappointment to a class of preschoolers who want to go outside and play, is rain. When I have met a class of disappointed faces in sharing our daily schedule of not including outside play over the years, I have “Singing in the Rain” lesson plans to try to minimize the disappointment. Some of these fun lesson plans are for young children to do ink or finger-painting raindrops, creatively design umbrellas, rain songs and movement, using our fingers to demonstrate the pitter-patter of raindrops and, if it is not lightning or thundering or bad weather, the children will enjoy a rainy day walk, looking at nature and rainbows.

Some of these lessons are fun activities, but they do not take the place of playing outside or a field trip that young children are looking forward to. To be honest with myself, as a teacher, I cannot always protect the children I teach from disappointments. Canceled field trips, having to miss a long-awaited birthday party due to sickness, losing a game, etc., are some of life’s disappointments. They can be big or little, but they still bring sadness and a let-down feeling.

It is better to teach a child healthy coping skills early in life as they work through the sad feelings they may have in disappointments. Taking the time to encourage your child early in life to work through difficult situations builds up strength, confidence and contentment in tough situations that they may face in life.

As a teacher and parent, I wanted to share some helpful tips that I have gleaned over the years from fellow teachers, parents and the experiences I have had with young children.

 The first thing I have tried when I have seen young children truly upset with disappointment is to let them know that I understand and feel their pain of sadness. Sitting down face-to-face with them and spending time with them and letting them talk and express themselves — even through tears — shows empathy and understanding. Time spent with children spells LOVE.

One thing that parents and teachers come to realize is that we cannot control situations or circumstances to prevent disappointments from affecting our children. Personally, I will admit, as a teacher, I just don’t want the children I teach to experience disappointments. But teachers and parents realize that we have to gently and tenderly guide and direct our children when they are going through disappointments. This requires listening to our children as they express their feelings and identify with their feelings. If there is a disappointment, due to not being able to go on a trip, activity or event, ask your child what they would desire to have happened. This opens up a discussion on how it could be done in a different way.

We have to be realistic in knowing that the past few years have been difficult years with COVID and economic challenges. As families, it is so natural to have something to look forward to such as vacations, family gatherings and holidays. We have to admit that it has been hard on children over the past two years with social gatherings being canceled or postponed and usual holiday traditions filled with uncertainty. As parents and teachers, we have to look at our situations over the past few years and assess whether our expectations will be different. Young children are literal thinkers. When we say we are going to do something, they take us at our word and build hope and excitement that you will be doing what you said. During these uncertain times, we have to truly think before we promise our children what we are going to do.

With young children, you have to learn to plan ahead of time in guiding their expectations. This helps them to cope with their disappointments. Being honest with our children is the best coping skill that we can give them. Gas and expenses have truly gone up for all families. We recognize that this can be a strain on families, which young children quickly discern. But we can take disappointing rainy days and make them into rainbows. We, as families, can still celebrate the rest of summer on a shoestring budget with the time we spend with our children before school starts back. Have those evening picnics and take time to gaze at beautiful Lee County sunsets, the stars and the moon; just spending time together spells LOVE.

Let’s Sing In the Rain With Our Children.

Classroom Observer, Beth Pinyerd