The Reasons Why I’ll Never Work in Preschool
I decided to pursue a degree that involved getting an early childhood education diploma because I knew that I wanted to work with people and children, even if I didn’t know how that was going to look. I also knew that I would get the opportunity to work in different childcare settings to see if maybe they would be what I’m interested in working in. I’ve working two days a week at a preschool now for a couple months, and as I’ve gotten to know the staff and children I have firmly decided that I could never work in a preschool long term.
To the child who bites and fights. You’ve helped me realize that I could not work in a preschool because of the constant attention and care that you require. The hours I’ve spend just holding you in one place so that you wouldn’t injure another child, learning your patterns and getting to know your charm and your heart full of love. Studying the length of your eye lashes and giving into your mischief when you smile with those big brown eyes. Growing to understand the struggles that you face with the disability that no one will give me the name of, and seeing just how able you are to teach me more about myself than most people. Knowing that you’re going to a new school next year where a new set of teachers will have to learn how much you love hugs and kisses; and how worth it it is to risk having your face bitten to get one of those kisses. I can’t work in a preschool because I want someone who knows you to grow up with you and teach new people how to love you best.
To the little girl who greeted me with screams and always disobeyed direct orders to stay sitting because you were excited to see me come in. Who never stayed in your place during circle time because you insisted on being as close to the teachers as possible. Who never once complained that your name was mispronounced by most of the people in the room, but complained everyday that no one cared how much you wanted the pink cup. A little, but fierce, child who taught me that even tough girls can get upset when their voices aren’t being heard. I can’t work in a preschool because I know that you need someone to walk patiently with you and show you that you are heard, and teach you that even if you’re being unreasonable you are still loved, and you are still my friend.
To the little boy with the head of curls and the big brown eyes who always tried his best to follow the English directions that were being yelled at the group, even though he only understood Portuguese. Whose mother told me “He doesn’t stop talking at home” but sat quietly and tried so hard to do what enough of the kids were doing to avoid having his name yelled in a way he wasn’t used to hearing at home. The child who inspired me to learn a little Portuguese and who came alive at my few poorly pronounced words. Thank you for all the stories you told me that I never understood. My little friend who was so brave every day, but cried on his third birthday because he just wanted to be at home with his happy family. I can’t work in a preschool because I don’t believe that children who aren’t used to yelling should have to get used to it. I think that if you’re used to being asked nicely to do something, Amo, that shouldn’t change because there are too many of you in one room.
Finally, to the teachers who are wearing thin. The people who got into early childhood education because they loved kids, who learned how to teach them best, and who can’t do either of those things now. I’m sorry that you can’t help but yelling because you have too many things to do. I’m sorry there are too many kids. Teachers who spend half of their day posing kids to look like they’re doing educational activities, and the other half filling out reports on your phone so parents can see what they want to see. I saw the reality that between pictures and typing, they are really just trying to keep everyone from getting out of control. The teachers who want to hold the crying children, want to hear their laughs, but end their days feeling overwhelmed because of the demands on their times and neglect for their personal needs. I can’t work in a preschool because I want to eat with the kids instead of shushing them, and I hold fast to the old rule of sleeping when they sleep because being a care taker is hard.
I salute those who can work in preschools, because it’s a job that needs to be done. Teachers who can make it through each day knowing that something small they did will make an impact in the child’s life, even if they never see that child again after they leave. Teachers who are able to pour out their love all day long just to hand the children back to their parents at the end of the day and not know what they are going home to. I can’t work in a preschool because I want to tell that one kid’s first girlfriend about how he used to eat his socks during nap time, and give him a lunch box filled with socks on his eighteenth birthday.