The Joy of Spring for the Winter Room
By Rita Thoemke
(Rita is one of the teachers of the toddlers, children who are two years old at the beginning of the year.)
A neighbor friend once told me that spring was created for mothers. She said this after observing me outside with my three little girls on one of the first nice days of spring. Today, I would add that spring was also made for teachers.
While All Seasons teachers enjoy the outdoors all year round, there are things about spring that we look forward to: longer outside times, less time needed to put on outdoor gear, enjoying snack outside on a blanket. Watching kids rediscover new magic in their familiar play areas is a joy. Mud puddles prove irresistible, and taking gear home to wash becomes routine.
There are other gifts that spring presents. Reflecting back on just how far these kids have come since fall is amazing. Drop-off time, once full of worry and concern, is now full of anticipation and curiosity about what awaits them in our classroom. Snack time used to be full of little challenges, from opening a lunch box or small container, to cleaning up and putting items away. Even conversations are different. Instead of asking teachers when their moms will be back, they now ask, “What will we do outside today?”
There is amazing confidence that comes to each child by the end of our school year. As their confidence has grown, teachers have made adjustments to how we support the children. Early in the year we would give step-by-step directions to get ready for going outside. “First, take off your shoes. Then find your snowpants.” Now we give them more space to do what they know how to do independently. Once outside, they no longer feel the need to stay close to a teacher. We watch from a greater distance as they explore the things of their choosing.
Throughout the year, we have also seen friendships develop. When a classmate is absent, it does not go unnoticed. The children ask about each other and want to know when their friend will be back. Children remember who enjoyed various activities with them and seek each other out to continue unfinished play. This is just the beginning of making connections outside of their family.
For toddler teachers, one of the biggest joys is that we don’t have to say goodbye at the end of the year. We are not sending any of our children off to kindergarten. We have just begun the early childhood education years, and we are eager to watch the journey continue as many of the children return for preschool in our Spring and Autumn preschool rooms.