Working at a preschool for two weeks stretched the limits of my
patience, but it also turned out to be a lot more fun than I expected. Each
day was full of surprises, ranging from slapstick mischief to amazing
breakthroughs in the children's learning power. The kids' energy levels
raised my own, and I felt a curious mixture of exhaustion and elation upon
leaving the parking lot each day. I don't think I would choose this as a
long-term profession, but as a short-term gig it was a memorable,
educational, and messy experience. Each day I dressed carefully because I
knew the potential risk of getting filthy when playing with kids. In fact,
on my first day I changed my clothes about three times before deciding upon
an outfit that was sufficiently comfortable and easily washable. I fully
expected to be fingered with finger paints and doused with dirt from the
playground at unexpected moments and in unexpected places. I donned jeans
or shorts and an old tee-shirt each day, preferably dark colors.
I drove to the school every day and parked in their small, six-spot
lot. I often arrived as some of the parents dropped off their wee ones and
placed them in our care. As a preschool, we served a dual purpose: day care
and preschool education. The children would be playing freely but also
learning about numbers, the alphabet, colors, and anything else. Most of
the parents were in too much of a hurry to chat, but occasionally a
friendly mother or a father would strike up a conversation before leaving.
I relished those moments because it enabled me to understand their
offspring better as well as glean what kinds of expectations the parents
had of our school. I realized that the parents basically wanted their kids
to feel comfortable and safe and also to make new friends.
When children are between the ages of three and five, their
personalities begin to shine through. One little girl...