A Constant Balance: To Focus On Where We Are Or On Where We Are Going

Posted October 26, 2022

A Constant Balance: To Focus on Where We Are or on Where We Are Going
By Amy Lemieux

When my children were young our family planned a trip to Disney World. It was MEA weekend, so we didn’t have an abundance of time, but there was an endless list of must-see attractions. The theme of the weekend mirrored the rest of our lives: hurry so we can cram it all in.

One afternoon as we blazed through EPCOT, a street performer caught our attention and the kids stopped to watch. My husband hurried back to see what was holding everyone up. “This is fun. We want to stay for a while!” The idea was immediately vetoed. “We don’t have time for fun. We need to get to the next ride,” and off he charged, everyone reluctantly trailing behind.

While the irony of this anecdote was not lost on me in that moment, on I forged, falling into the familiar pattern of racing onto the next thing while ignoring what was before us. We didn’t have time for fun. At Disney World. This illustrates the kind of balancing act our teachers face during their days with young children. The struggle is palpable; we need to do stuff. But in our quest to get stuff done, it is entirely possible to lose what is before us.

The intersection of balancing where a child is with where they are headed is where the intuition and skill of an exemplary teacher is most vital. All Seasons takes great satisfaction in our intention to be present with children as they are, but it cannot mean we ignore where they are headed. Each day begins with a tentative plan, yet our teachers know they have the freedom to deviate from that plan when an opportunity presents itself. They can honor the present while being mindful of what will inevitably be the next chapter for the children. If the preschoolers discover there are monsters in the boulders who might invade the seniors’ apartments, they are given the time to build traps, draw pictures to identify the monster, and compose a letter to warn the seniors of the danger lurking in the halls.

Some would bristle at our laid-back approach; does this mean we simply float through our days in total denial that the “rigors of kindergarten” are just around the corner? Not at all. We would be doing a disservice to our students if we allowed them to stumble into today’s kindergarten classroom totally unprepared for what is to come. Our intentionality means that we are welcoming the children as they come to us while helping them along to whatever their next step might be. For some children it means tangling orange yarn in a tree to lay a trap for the monster. For others, it means collecting materials to lay a more elaborate trap, complete with a drawing and written description of said monster. The excitement of the project might motivate a child who was tentative last week to now approach a senior to animatedly warn them of the winged monster.

Finessing this balance between present and future-focus means that regardless of whether a child comes to us knowing how to write words or not knowing how to hold a pencil correctly, we will embrace them as they are and help them to the next stage as they are ready. We make time for both and are committed to not be so focused on kindergarten that we miss preschool.