by Jenny Kleppe
Resources abound about childhood speeding by too quickly. As a mother of two young children, I am constantly told, “Enjoy every moment! Before you know it, they will be off to college!” I admit there are many moments I do not enjoy. I love my children, but I do not love tantrums, fevers, feeling rushed, or 3:00 a.m. crying.
But childhood does go fast, especially from day to day. Things at home are busy and time flies. As children enter the preschool and elementary years, the day to day “busy-ness” is compounded with multiple after school sports, clubs, and commitments. Activities spill over into the weekends, so the precious little time families have together can be infringed upon. I find myself wondering, where is the time to be present with my children? Where is the time for childhood?
Being present is difficult. Making time and space for being together is challenging for most families. But childhood still exists. You just have to look a bit harder to find it these days. Here at All Seasons Preschool, childhood is easy to find. We teachers have the unique position to be present for childhood. I feel lucky to have what I like to call “Teacher Privilege.” Every day I witness childhood at its finest and my job is to be present. I play with, eat with, learn with, and grow with fascinating girls and boys.
Yes, I spend a great deal of my time teaching. I plan. I prepare children for and execute the transitions that bring us through our school day. I assess students’ abilities and skills in order to guide them to their next step of development. I spent several years training to learn these skills, but while I am using them, I get to BE with children. I am privileged to have the time and the space to join children in their world.
Last week I spent an hour creating an intricate village with several children in the sand box using sticks, wood chips, and rocks. We built roads for the villagers, volcanoes that erupted, cranes to make more houses, and forests that shaded the houses. The week before I was a fellow princess in the castle. I have been the Big Bad Wolf, the evil witch, a ninja, and the ‘ducker’ in “duck, duck, gray duck.” Every day at school I am privileged to hear and record children’s stories, an up-close glimpse into their imagination. I am an eyewitness to childhood, to play, to imagination at work.
You know the joy of giving a child a gift you are certain they will enjoy, and of seeing their eyes light up as they open it. I experience that joy multiple times a day, as children discover something outdoors, build something new out of blocks, feel the textures in the sensory table, listen to a favorite story or sing a favorite song with the group.
This is a luxury; to be both teacher and playmate; both leader and follower; to be with a child and be completely present with them without being distracted by work or other tasks, because being with young children IS my work. I am so fortunate to have this role. Thank you for sharing your children’s lives and childhoods with me.