August 10, 2015

“You have to bring snacks at Kindergarten.”

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , , at 12:01 pm by Lund

It’s a cloudy morning in the LECP playground, early August.  The preschoolers are outside digging in the sandbox, chasing each other around the play structure and pretending to be wolves.   “Let’s be bad wolves,” says one boy to a friend, growling and baring his teeth.  “No,” she replies, “I am good wolf.”  “OK,” he agrees and they bound off together.  In two weeks, six of these preschoolers will move on to Kindergarten.  The teachers have worked with them throughout their time in preschool to build the social/emotional and cognitive skills that they will need to be successful in Kindergarten and have put special emphasis over the past months on helping the children to be excited about this next important step.

Many of the children Lund serves have experienced significant trauma, and the primary focus begins with strengthening children’s social and emotional development. The teaching practices allow children to develop social/emotional competence and self-help skills, as well as offering children the opportunity to explore and experiment safely with different tools and  materials. As children develop, teachers begin to focus more on other skill building activities and curricula that address concepts and domains for learning as addressed in the Vermont Early Learning Standards.

Sharing the playground with children from the toddler room, it is easy to see the difference between the younger kids and these confident, articulate five-year olds.  “Take a picture of me,” one girl shouts as she executes a complex jump from the play structure.  I look at the teacher nervously, “Is that allowed?”  “Oh it’s safe, they do it all the time,” the teacher replies.   These children, and their aerial maneuvers, seem ready for a bigger adventure.  But what do they have to say about it themselves?

Tell me about Kindergarten:

“I’m going to climb a tall tree because they will ask me to.”   – B

“In Kindergarten, I will read books and play.  It’s going to be fun.  The teacher will probably spend the night.  Does the teacher spend the night?”  – J

“It’s a good thing I have a lunchbox.  You have to bring snacks at Kindergarten.  I’m going to bring apples, oranges and goldfish on the first day.”  – A

“Drawing.  I want to do drawing in Kindergarten.  I wish all my friends were going to Kindergarten with me.”  – M

“I know all about Kindergarten because my brother was there.  You get to play on a playground and read with letters.” – J

"This is Jess, my teacher."

“This is Jess, my teacher.”

March 24, 2015

An Open Letter to Early Childhood Educators*

Posted in Employees, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP) tagged , at 9:35 am by Lund

Paint hands

Dear Teachers,

Thank you for loving, looking after and teaching my child when I cannot be there. Thank you for being as interested in him as I am. Thank you for practicing patience, love and energy in every single interaction.   I have never seen you look tired or frustrated or even distracted. The work that you do is hard, and repetitive and sometimes must be disheartening. But I would never know. Thank you for reading the same book over and over, thank you for making Play-doh, thank you for picking up thousands of blocks, thank you for singing, thank you for putting mittens on and taking them off and putting them on. Yes, thank you especially for the mittens.

What you do allows me to do what I believe to be good and important work in the world. The ripple effect of you taking care of children allows so much to happen. You are doctors, lawyers, teachers, grocery store clerks, social workers, internet marketing specialists and more. With 700 neurons being formed per second in the little minds you are taking care of, your productivity rate beats everyone else in the world. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that you are forming the future of my family, the community and the world. Your job is the most important one.

You support me as a parent. You often advice, share funny moments and don’t judge when I forget to bring more diapers, provide you with only most erratic collection of spare clothes for wet afternoons and cannot execute the swift goodbye needed when there are tears. The last goodbye is always for me.

You are the few people in the world who understand my child’s words in the same way that I do. You listen to his voice and you hear it. I see so much of you in his play, his interactions and his words at home.   I wish I could take credit for many of his more refined and reasonable behaviors but really it should be yours to celebrate.

I know that you are not well paid and that most people don’t understand the absolutely crucial nature of what you do. This is through no fault of your wonderful school but a statewide, perhaps nation wide, under appreciation for the work of Early Childhood. I know your hours start early in the morning and continue until late in the afternoon. I know that you cannot leave until the last child has been picked up, the chairs put up and the dishwasher running.   There is no long summer break for you. You have to follow all sorts of regulations, rules and recommendations. So much, every day is your responsibility. I admire you even more because of these things.

I could not do what you do and I am so thankful that you do it. Please know that so much of our success as a family and my peace of mind at work is because of you. There is so rarely time to say it in the morning when I am watching the clock, filling you in on horrible night’s sleep and how my toddler’s emergent speech appears to have him swearing like a sailor at the moment. And in the evening there are boots to struggle on, toys to be pulled away from and the overhanging perennial question of what will we have for dinner. So I say it to you now, thank you for all that you do. Thank you for loving my child.

A grateful parent

*Shared by permission of the author and applicable to teachers everywhere