By Beth Pinyerd
This past week in summer preschool, I had the pure joy of reading “The Very Lonely Firefly” by Eric Carle to the children. The very lonely firefly is about belonging. We all want to belong to a group. The preschoolers were so attentive because children young and old love to chase, catch and let go of fireflies better known as “lightning bugs.” Even when visiting my son in Michigan where it is a little cooler, we sat out on the porch with family in the evenings to observe the fireflies flitting about. Fireflies truly bring a smile to our face and into our hearts. Smiles and kindness truly bring us into a group of glowing love.
During this very hot season in our community, people have truly gone out of their way to help each other. This just naturally puts a smile on our face. Last week I was so encouraged as a senior adult when a young man saw me struggling in the heat to put my grocery cart back in the cart lot. I was far from the lot, but the young man came out of his way to put my cart back where it belonged. Also, after purchasing my annual car tag from Lee County courthouse, a young man helped me to put my new tag on my car free of charge. I told him he was a lifesaver and gave him a handful of Lifesavers. Being a recipient of these simple kind actions encouraged me so much with a great big smile of true gratitude. Kindness does not cost a thing, but the benefits kindness pays out for you and others cannot be measured. Kindness can be shown too with a smile for others.
During this season of uncertain times, we can experience stress. A smile even from our eyes from someone can ease stress and help us to be encouraged and give us hope. It takes less muscles to smile than to frown. Medical professionals tell us in overall health that smiling does help our immune system to function better by giving it a boost as well as lowering our blood pressure and taking away stress. Smiling can trigger certain neurotransmitters to be released which help us to feel good all over. Socially and emotionally, a smile from someone else can encourage us, too. This is a free gift that you can give to someone else.
One area that brings joy and a smile both physically and to our hearts is music. Young children simply delight in music and song. As parents and teachers of young children, we see how music can bring smiles, joy and happiness into the family as well as the classroom. Even little babies and infants are very aware and sensitive to the rhythm, intonation and tempo of music. It’s such a joy to hear early childhood teachers rock and sing to the little babies. It’s even more special for mommies to sing to their babies. An infant quickly recognizes his or her mother’s singing voice. Young children love to repeat familiar tunes.
When teaching toddlers, I learned quickly that they are great imitators. Toddlers love to do songs that involve motions with their hands and feet. Preschool children ages 2 through 5 enjoy music just for music. They are not concerned about pitch or right key. This age group loves to clap, dance, skip and do the motions with the songs. They simply love to sing and hum when they are playing and doing their little jobs. Playing music in your home or car is thoroughly enjoyed by your young child. There are so many ways for parents to share the gift of music with their children. Singing directions are done in the early childhood classroom as children move through the transitions from subjects, centers, snacks and cleanup. Singing directions with young children to clean their rooms or help with household chores will make the tasks more colorful and fun. Wake up your child with a song on your heart. This will bring a smile for both of you, as well as plant a song in your heart. Young children are great imitators of models of kindness. In sharing some acts of kindness with the preschoolers that I am so very blessed to help teach, I have asked their opinions on how to do something kind that brings on a smile. Here are a few suggestions from our “Sit and Chats” that I would like to share from the hearts of young children.
Compliment and say something nice to family and friends. As young children would say, “Make another person feel happy and smile.” Recently I was reading a story to a class. I was wearing an old, faded shirt of summer colors that was just comfortable and cool. Without even prompting or probing, a 3-year-old preschool girl spontaneously complimented my old shirt. I had been personally having a hard day, and this compliment truly elevated this teacher’s mood and won my heart as I continued to read a book with a big smile.
Share with others. I love to see young children share their toys in center time. As children mature, they want to share and give.
Give something nature-made to a person. As we early childhood classes head outside for recess, especially in the summer, year after year I have seen smiles and eager little eyes preparing something, and in this case, a gift to the teacher. I just love to see my little guys and gals go run, bend over in the grass and pick me a little wildflower and come running to me to put it in my hand. This always brings a smile of feeling loved to us teachers and parents.
Holding the door for someone else is a suggestion that preschoolers said. This definitely brings on a smile.
Say “thank you” when someone does something nice for us. I love to hear young thank-yous after preschool children are given a simple snack.
Pick up trash, clean up and do classroom and home chores without being asked to do it. This brings a heartfelt smile.
Drawing pictures and sending cards to our elderly friends truly bring a smile to our senior friends. I thank young moms for taking extra time with their children in having them draw happy pictures and mailing them, even to me, their teacher. Refrigerators become a display of pictures and love art hung by magnets to reflect love and time spent in making a simple gift to bring a smile.
Tell someone you are sorry if you have done something wrong. Young children are so free in giving hugs to each other in asking for forgiveness. Hugs bring young children into the group of glow.
Last but not least is to tell a person you love them. This truly brings a lifegiving smile.
1 Corinthians 13:13 states, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Classroom Observer, Beth Pinyerd