Sunday, September 15, 2019

What do you do when you are waiting?

"You can live life as if there are no miracles, or
you can live life as if everything is."
- Anonymous

These first six weeks of school are, necessarily, focused on guiding children to understand the routines of school...and there is simply no end to all the small things that children must learn how to do in a preschool class. The more that they can fulfill these tasks and routines independently and/or automatically, the more their play will be rich and varied in the very near future. 

It is life-giving for me, to mix a little magic in with the soften the 'work' of it, and to make these more fun. Otherwise, teaching routines would be dull, dull, dull. Children absorb the learning much more easily when there's a little silly or surprise to go along with it. Song provides a lot of magic, and I sing through many of our routines - gathering on the carpet, readying ourselves to listen to a book, and, even, singing 'baby sooooaaaap" to the tune of 'baby shark' as I remind them to take one squirt of soap when we are washing our hands.

This week I discovered a little bit of magic of the children's own making. When we wash our hands before snack and lunch, we line up one-by-one at the sink. This line, when the children initially line up, curves alongside the art table, past the easels, and around the back of the room - 22 preschoolers can make a long line! Well, lo and behold, in addition to singing as we wash our hands, these preschoolers have been making art at the easel (see the picture above). I was too focused on the hands at the sink to notice this fun sideline activity. Then, the hand-washing was complete, the children were happily seated at the lunch table, and I walked by the easel, and - whoa! What a surprise! I can't help but feel that these students will become strong academics in the near future - they have made great use of their time, throwing themselves into a creative task, together, as they wait their way through a drudgery of a task!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

What time is it?

Another school year begins in the Big Cats preschool classroom, and the children are at all different levels of acceptance about being there. It is all SO new - long days, so many classmates, so many new adults, new routines, new activities, new expectations, new, new, new.

Our first day of school was a half day for the children, with dismissal at noon. Even this was too long for some. At about 10 a.m., I noticed one little girl who seemed ill at ease about being in the classroom and I went over to her, to find out what was wrong. She declared, "I want my Daddy!" and the tears welled in her eyes.

"Look at this calendar.," I redirected, showing her the visual calendar on our front wall. "See how it says "Centers"? That's what we're doing now - we're playing. Then, see, we have "Read Aloud," then "Lunch," then "Goodbye." We just have a little bit more to our day together. After lunch, we all go home. Come, let's play."

She went quiet, gazing at the schedule. I figured I had helped her understand time, a bit.

A moment or two later, maybe 10:10am, I found her sitting in her cubby, unzipping her lunchbox. "I see you with your lunchbox, Cindy; what's up?"

"I'm going to eat lunch," she quickly replied.

"Well, it's not time for lunch yet," I said cautiously, fearing that she might begin to cry again. "It's early in the morning. Remember our schedule? We are playing together now, in Centers."

"After lunch, Daddy comes. I'm eating lunch now," she replied with conviction.

Ah, I see.

She's keeping 'preschool time.'

The signs said Lunch, Goodbye. Let's skip all that fluff leading up to Lunch and get straight to the good stuff: we all know, Daddy comes right after lunch.

My laugh for the day!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Have you seen our restaurant?

Today, I ‘stopped by’ the new restaurant that has opened in our classroom and I thought I share a restaurant review ;-)

This is a small and casual place, with only two tables, but many willing and excited wait staff. You will not go unattended! Yes, the service is speedy and friendly. The restaurant has a real ‘family’ feel to it, especially in that you sometimes have to bus your own table. It is a very casual environment, with one host talking with her grandpa on the telephone as she directed me to my table. One challenging moment -  two hosts showed up at the front counter to welcome patrons, and they got into a loud but brief argument over which one would use the phone.

It’s clear that the restaurant is training new staff. One waiter put a hot frying pan right on my table, in the midst of my meal - that was a surprise! Another waiter took off her shoes as she was taking my order. I wonder if the wait staff is able to earn a living wage, because one great waiter was in her fire chief uniform, and she explained that she was getting ready to go to her next job.

What are the food specialties? As soon as you are seated, potato chips are delivered to your table as an appetizer. I had a delicious bowl of “Carrot and Lemon Soup.” Chef R breezed into the dining area with the suggestion “Try our cakes!” and Chef M was right behind him, adding “Try our pancakes!” Then, Chef H chimed in “We’re making cake in no time at all!” Do you know the special ingredient in their delicious sandwiches? Two small, thin cookies! A true culinary delight.

It’s clear that the restaurant is not yet accustomed to serving crowds, because when I ordered many of the menu items, I received the answer “We don’t have that.” Here’s hoping they work out the kinks in the days to come! Yes, if you have a chance to eat at the Big Cats’ new restaurant - go and enjoy their novel approach to good food.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Did you see the blossoms?

Spring weather means that we can get out and about more. The preschoolers and I went for a neighborhood walk, to see five flowering cherry trees, in a park located a mere two blocks from our school. I wrote this poem based on the children's own reflections about the fun we had together.

We went walking,
to see the cherry blossoms,
past the construction,
down the block,
around the corner,
heard the ambulance,
saw cars and trucks,
more flowers, blue and yellow,
we went walking,
all of us,
to see

There! See!
like snow,
picked up by the wind.
Let's jump for the branch,
shake the blossoms
gather blossoms for bracelets,
stand still and feel,
these beautiful blossoms
like snow.

Oh, what else?
Look and see -
big trees to climb,
sticks for digging,
worms, worms, worms,
bugs in the grass,
a green caterpillar.
We run in circles,
pause on the bench, and
eat a snack.

Looking back,
over our shoulders,
down the hill,
we see
the roof of our school.
We are so close
and yet
so very far away,
with beautiful blossoms
like snow.