Thursday, January 6, 2011
IT'S ALREADY A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I absolutely love January at preschool. I love it so much that right after New Year's, I never mind leaving behind the decadence of a holiday break spent sitting on the couch with my dogs watching movies and eating sweets in my jammies. In fact, I really look forward to school starting again, even though it includes getting up early and being a grown-up again.
Why is it that children have amazing developmental spurts every year at this time? I have come to look forward to seeing amazing things in January at preschool, and I’m never disappointed. It’s so much fun seeing children growing into themselves, being ready to learn new skills, showing signs of new confidence, and getting to know each other in ways that they simply weren’t ready for just a few weeks ago. When I am surrounded by all this sudden growth, it reminds me once again that all the hard work of getting-used-to-school was well worth it.
Here are just a few examples from my One's and Two's during the first week of 2011:
-When someone smashed E’s sand castle, E just took a deep breath and said, “That’s ok. I can just build another one.”
-When Y raised his fist and started to hit someone who was “in his way,” he changed his mind, pulled back his arm, and walked the other direction. Then he got busy playing with his favorite truck and soon I saw him hand a toy to the child he considered hitting a few moments before.
-B, D, and M were working with scissors at the playdoh table. Scissors are a new adventure for B and D, but more familiar to M. After playing, poking, and exploring the possibilities for awhile, B and D started observing M’s scissor techniques, then trying to imitate them. Before long, all three children were holding the scissors in the traditional way, and successfully snipping away at the playdoh.
-When I was reading a book to the group, each child was “glued” to the story. They sat very still, listened to every word, and wanted to talk about each aspect of the story in great detail, relating it to experiences in their own lives. I think we spent at least 10 to 15 minutes on this one little book. Then they wanted to read another book! Why does everyone always say that 2's "have no attention span?"
-P and S, two young toddlers who didn’t even notice each other previously, played side-by-side for 20 minutes, watching the other child’s play and imitating it. Several times, P tried to engage S’s attention by eye contact and funny movements, and S responded by imimating and smiling.
-G has been stoically observing at school most of the time from September to December, rarely joining in to activities, and seldom smiling. This week she jumped in feet-first to many play activities and I observed her smiling many times, as well as interacting confidently with other children.
-T, who has been somewhat slow to develop language skills, is now one of those kids who is "glued to the story" when we're reading together. He is even more excited about discussing the story with me and his friends than the older and more verbal kids are!
And guess what: it's not only the kids who show signs of growth! Adults are blossoming in January as well:
-Several parents who told me they were overwhelmed by being a part of a parent participation preschool a few months ago are suddenly volunteering for extra little jobs and helping other parents whose turn it is to be overwhelmed! I'm so glad they stuck it out and pushed through the difficulty of that learning curve, and in their new connectedness, I can see that they are glad as well.
These little-yet-huge accomplishments and the many others I see ever day, are the very reason why we hang in there during those times when our children are fussy, say they hate school, cry when we leave them, have embarrassingly bad social skills, or in general seem to be going backwards instead of forwards.
It takes a lot of persistence to be parents and teachers. Even though I'm not an overly patient person, all these years of working with the same age group has shown me that persistence always pays off. When we don’t give up, and we keep offering our children appropriate and enriching experiences, we eventually reap the rewards of seeing our children grow and develop.
Now you know why I love January!
Posted by ANNIE CASTLE DECKERT, M.ED.PSYCH.