Miss Night's Marbles

Musings, mumbles, marvels, and sometimes mockery, live from kindergarten.

To the PreK teachers: Thank you.

on 6 September, 2012
Three days into this kindergarten year. Three magical, crazy, messy, chaotic, exhilarating and exhausting days, for me, and, I’m sure, for the children. (Now that I think about it, it has probably been all of those things for their parents, too.)  Exhausted as I am, I love these days. I love figuring out a new group of kids, noticing their quirks both collective and individual, predicting the patterns that may emerge as the year goes on. I love sitting back and watching the kids as they figure things out: the room, the toys, their teachers, each other.
Watching this year’s crop of munchkins settle in, I have often thought of our preschool teachers. One of the things I love about my school is that many of our students start with us when they are just three years old. We really get to watch them grow up.  An increasing percentage of my students have been with us for 2 full years before even arriving in kindergarten. Our preschool teachers may be the hardest working people in our building. They work longer hours for less pay than K-12 teachers, pouring themselves into our very tiniest students. The things they teach are rarely thought of, and even more rarely noticed, by teachers are higher levels, but the value of what they do has left me breathless on more than one occasion this week.
And so, to the preschool teachers, at my school and everywhere, on behalf of all the teachers from Kindergarten onward: Thank you.
Thank you for teaching these children:
  • To push in their chairs when they stand up from their tables.
  • To open one item at a time from their lunch boxes.
  • To put their shoes neatly in their cubbies.
  • To carry 2 shoes in one hand.
  • To wash their hands with one (and only one) pump of soap.
  • To say “please” and “thank you” and “help me” and “can I go to the bathroom” and “hello” and “goodbye” in French, with such consistency that the kids who have never been to school in French are already saying them.
  • To try new things with courage and determination.
  • To write their name on their work.
  • To put their scissors and glue away when their work is done.
  • To love books, and to explore them with such an eye for detail.
  • To take care of books and put them gently back on the shelf.
  • To listen raptly to stories and songs.
  • To notice the colours and shapes of things.
  • To follow a visual schedule
  • To keep track of their own belongings.
  • To put their shoes on the right feet (at least some of the time!)
  • To choose a healthy snack.
  • To know the difference between snack and lunch.
  • To look out for one another on the playground.
  • To walk the hallways of our very large building with confidence and purpose.
  • To trust that school is a wonderful and safe place, where they belong and are welcome.

Thank you for showing these children, with everything you say and do, that the adults in a classroom are there to help them. They have arrived on my doorstep with perfect confidence that if they are unsure or worried or scared or upset or struggling, I will help them. Their faith is so perfect that they do not hesitate to ask for help, or to announce that they are having trouble. They are not embarrassed to be learning, they are not hiding their mistakes. They are hanging them out there for all to see, trusting that this is a place where mistakes are okay, where  second chances are readily available, and where there is always an opportunity to try again.

And above and beyond all of this: thank you, for loving these children so well and so thoroughly that their expectation of school is just that: love. For holding them and hugging them, smiling at them and laughing with them so often and with such enthusiasm that, when they arrived at my door just 3 short days ago, their love was right there bubbling at the surface. I’m just not sure that I can think of a better definition of school readiness than for a child to arrive at school prepared and expecting to love and be loved.

So, thank you, dear preschool colleagues. The work you do is undervalued and underpaid, but please, please know: it is not unappreciated. You have polished these little ones up so bright and shiny. The responsibility of keeping that shine alive is both humbling and inspiring.

Happy September, friends.



3 Responses to “To the PreK teachers: Thank you.”

  1. Jane says:

    The population of kids that we serve at my school has rarely attended any preschool program so we get to teach all the preschool skills plus the regular kindergarten stuff. You are indeed lucky to have such a loving and dedicated staff. I am grateful for my son’s preschool teachers who work for very little pay but are teaching my son all the things you mentioned above. They are wonderful. Just the other day my three year old was telling me how to hold a CD so it doesn’t get dirty, I said “who taught you that?” “Angela.” His preschool teacher! Amazing!

  2. Amy says:

    Thanks, @happycampergirl! I’m a JK teacher and I read the end of your blog post with tears in my eyes :). It’s VERY nice to have someone recognize that little things like tucking in chairs and and knowing the difference between snack time and lunch time and keeping track if your own shoes are often something children are taught at school, and are actually a BIG deal! Also the love. I LOVE those little guys! It’s why I have this vocation – because its really all about love. I can’t wait to meet my new little class next week! Thanks for writing this; I’m printing it and posting it in the staffroom today!!!

  3. Faige says:

    I’m writing this just after hearing President Obama’s speech at the DNC. He spoke about the importance of Early Childhood education, and it can’t be stated enough. This blog inspired me to take the time to thank the pre school teachers at my school. Having worked as a PreK teacher for many years, before moving to the Kinders, I know and value the work done by these incredible educators.

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