By Beth Pinyerd
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
As we come to the end of the school year, there have been many graduation ceremonies as we celebrate what our children have learned. Well I want to share a different side of graduation and that is what this retired teacher who has been so blessed to teach at Trinity United Methodist Preschool as a Bible and Library teacher has learned this year. I grew up from infant through high school at Trinity United Methodist Church. As I walk through the halls and different classrooms, Deja vu, I remember and cherish the many life lessons taught to me from teachers, parents and volunteers who took time to love on we children and youth! What a privilege and blessing it is to now teach young lives. In helping in the toddler room, my heart overflows with awe and love for these children as they meet me with unconditional love and hugs. It humbles and amazes me just how much these young lives are so ready to learn and interact. Fresh from Heaven, toddlers are not too small or young to be taught! The lead seasoned teacher in this class has taught these little guys and gals so much about manners, Bible, letters and how to interact and play.
Young children, from infants, toddlers and older preschoolers, observe everything as they take the whole world in! Too, they are observing and taking all in what we adults do. We are their first teachers and young children model and copy our actions in order to learn.
Recently my brother sent me a picture of his grandson wearing his daddy’s size 15 shoes! This little toddler was standing tall and looked so proud to be wearing his daddy’s shoes. I am sure many of you have seen your toddler daughters love to adorn themselves with mama’s jewelry or makeup. What a JOY and a complimentary reflection of how young children want to be like mama and daddy.
In Early Childhood, play is a child’s work. After teaching readiness lessons to young children, free play is part of developmental and social learning. A “happy memory” for me as a teacher was when I took my class of first graders out for play. I heard a group of my little first graders pretending “school.” I quietly overheard from them a familiar lesson in playing school. They were modeling their first grade teacher, good and bad, as they conducted their pretend first grade classroom. Truly this was an eye opener for me to know just how much “little folks” observe. It was a very good teacher evaluation.
Children learn acceptable and unacceptable behavior by watching us adults. They are like little sponges! We preschool teachers and parents have to be so careful in what we say and do because we have a little audience who is watching us.
How can we model life skills for our younger children?
Take time to truly listen. We have so many technology distractions such as televisions, cell phones, computers, videos, etc. Our children need our undivided attention during certain periods of time. The holidays’ flexible schedules offer us more time to truly focus in on our young children.
Have a Good Work Ethic. My heart melts as a teacher when our toddler class bends down and helps we teachers sweep, pass out snack, pick up their toys with very little direction or instruction. They are modeling what they have learned at home. Include your preschoolers in home chores.
Model Good Manners. Again, young children are looking to see how we adults treat other people. This helps in developing good social skills. When you show your preschoolers how to greet other people of all ages, help people, like opening the door for them or helping them carry packages that might be heavy.
One memory that this teacher still ponders in my heart is when I was bending over to grade spelling tests of my first grade class. Well, I fell over on the floor after tripping over a chair. I was so embarrassed to fall in front of my students. Before I could get up, one of my little boys offered his arm for me to lean on as I got back up. My whole class then supported me back to my feet. I lessened the tension of the class by laughing and then we all laughed. These little people checked on me all day long!
Children too, observe we adults on how we manage our emotions when we are disappointed, frustrated or sad. Talk honestly with your preschoolers and they will model how you handle life’s joys and disappointments.
This summer volunteer in the community as a family. Bring the world to your doorstep by volunteering to truly help others. Right now our community needs this more than ever. Donating food, supplies, toys and essentials to other families in need is a very good lesson of caring beyond the home front to help make the world a better place to live. Too, it is a life lesson that they will continue as they grow up.
Show respect as you teach understanding and empathy to our young children. We love the fresh luscious fruits of summer! Let your children practice the fruits of the spirit by modeling love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as we gather together as families and friends and celebrate together the good old summer time!
Cherish every single day of your young child’s life! Never take one for granted, savor each moment as you watch your promise from God to be a possibility! I would like to thank the sweet preschoolers I taught this year. You have taught this teacher so very much of the truth that “Every good and perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, nether shadow of turn.” James 1:17