Lessons learned working at a preschool

My current job is working as a teacher’s aid for a local preschool. I have grown professionally and as an individual. Here are some of the lessons I have learned.

Lessons learned about children:

Children need to be taught how to be nice. You cannot simply say, “Be kind to him.” But you have to say, do not hit him, say you’re sorry, give her a hug. They cannot be nice if they do not know what being nice entails. They cannot be nice if they have never seen and observed what being nice is.

Children have a different perspective of this world, figuratively and literally. Most adults forget how little children actually are until you get down to their level.

Children have short memory spans, which can be positive but also negative. Bad because they have a hard time remembering what was just told them to them but good because if they are upset they can be easily comforted and soon they will forget that they were even upset.

Bad behavior always has a cause. Sometimes they are just bored, need stimulation, movement, hot, tired, wanting to be alone… None of these are excuses for bad behavior, but it helps explain and then correct it.

Children know when people are upset or stressed. They have good intuition. They either get stressed though when they think you are stressed thus making your stress worse, or they have compassion and try to make you feel better.

Band-aids, hugs, and ice packs fix everything.

Whatever role is spoken over the children shapes who they are. If you tell a child they are a helper, they will step up. If you tell them they are a leader, they will lead. Same goes for negative qualities.

Children learn through play.

Children go through a lot of hardships. Single parents, broken homes, parental and grandparental death, severe medical issues, are no strangers to these children.

Children like cleaning things and being helpful. Especially if it involves water and hoses. Especially then. For example, when we’re outside we set up a car wash where we brought out dirty cars and buckets of soap and the children loved cleaning them.

Groups of children can be very unpredictable. One moment they are all quietly reading books, the next one has a nose bleed, one is crying because he misses his parents and five have to go to the bathroom.

Lessons learned about adults:

Smart adults lack some basic knowledge. Yes, I am in college on the dean’s list but when children ask me what’s the difference between a grasshopper and a cricket, why the sky is blue, why glue is sticky… I have no idea.

Adults handle stress in very different ways. Each teacher had a different way of handling stress, some talked consistently, some became more irritated, and some internalized their stress. Stress can turn normal happy people into someone they are not.

Parents do not have a lot of free time. In between work, running a household, and raising children, it leaves little room for fun activities.

Life lessons learned here:

I understand why Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me” and “have faith like a child.” Without much other previous knowledge, children understand God and Jesus and remember bible stories very well. For instance, after an adult said that only Jesus can walk on water, one four-year-old responded, “No two people walked on water, Jesus and Peter.” Every adult I’ve talked to does not remember that Peter walked on water too, so I am impressed with her for remembering that.

If you love someone you, tell them. One three-year-old girl greets me every day with, “Hello Miss Jessica! I love you! And missed you since yesterday!” then she proceeds to give me a big bear hug. It is the best way to start the day.

Children are important, and you can learn a lot about life through them.

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