This is a Tuesday "Slice of Life" for Two Writing Teachers. Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.
This is a muse,
about trying to prepare preschoolers for new experiences.
Preschoolers thrive on routine (whether or not they follow it!). Preschoolers love, love, love the familiar, the ordinary, the expected. This is the time of year that you reap the reward - children who know what comes next, what they should be doing, how to move from one thing to another. Our days together almost flow by...
unless you change the routine in some radical way.
This past week, I was again reminded of this: change is difficult for many preschoolers.
On Wednesday, we began a new morning gathering "tradition" - every Wednesday morning, between now and the end of the school year, our morning gathering will include not just the Big Cats, but the Giraffes (the other preschool class), as well. Aisha (Giraffes' Master Teacher) and I thought this would be great community building - another opportunity for these preschoolers to mix, a chance to sing, play, and listen together. Next school year, these two groups of children will blend together to create two new classes of Pre-K students. Why not let them have a little more exposure to one another before the school year ends? Especially, in such a safe and familiar way?
Oh, the protests! By this time of year, I know exactly which children will have difficulty with this new "tradition." I decided to prepare these tykes. During breakfast, I mentioned it to each child, one-on-one.
"I don't like that. I like Gathering in our classroom."
"I'm going to just sit on your lap, Ms. Ingram."
"Why do we have to go there?"
"I don't want to do that, Ms. Ingram."
"I'm not going over there, Ms. Ingram."
This last friend, I decided to walk over to the Giraffes during breakfast, chatting him up, "Let's go visit the classroom now, so you might see that their classroom is much the same as ours, they have a nice Gathering spot, we are going to have fun."
In the Giraffes, we checked out the scene, and then, much to my total amusement, he turned to the preschool teacher and said, "This is all very wonderful, but I won't be coming over later."
I assured him he could hold my hand and/or sit with me, throughout the Gathering.
Fast forward: the group Gathering occurs.
Yes, it happened.
It took me many extra minutes to get my squirrelly, reticent preschoolers lined up to go next door.
It took me many extra arms to hold them. I sat down, breathless, sweaty, with one preschooler on my lap; two others nestled up close to my body, one on each side; still another preschooler perched somewhat behind me, hugging me around my neck. Both Melissa and Claire (the other teachers) were also shoring up a few timid souls.
Whew! I made it into the classroom! We are sitting at Gathering, with the Giraffes.
I look at the Giraffes teachers, and what do I see? They mirror us, with several preschoolers adorning each teacher, at all angles. Aisha welcomes us - "Hello, Big Cats! Welcome to the Giraffes!"
Immediately, as if on cue, the preschooler on her lap says, "And, bye!" - making it all too clear that she would prefer that we be gone, that her routine not be new.