Beginning this year I started working with our preschool students . . . we are talking 3 and 4 year olds. There is nothing more in this world that makes me more confused about having kids than working with preschoolers.
One day you are walking around with glitter in your hair, paint on your shirt, a green smiley face sticker on your butt, a screaming 3 year old holding your hand, and a line of other little 3 year old airplanes behind you . . . this is the day you think, nope, not for me, never will I ever ever ever ever (how many evers can I even put?) even think about having a child. And then 5 seconds later (literally 5), you are hugged by a 4 year old who tells you he loves you, that you are the most beautiful person he’s ever seen, hugs you and skips down the hall to class. You look at the temper tantrum in your hand confused, thinking, “This will some how turn into that?” And you think, well that might be worth it . . . maybe 1 in 1 trillion chance, but still a maybe.
Preschoolers really have a knack of confusing you. They’ll kick you in the middle of a temper tantrum, stand up to love on you and ask, “I come with Mrs. Allen?” to which you must respond, “No, sweetie today is not your day,” for them to turn around, throw themselves on the floor crying because they can’t come with you. It’s a wild emotional roller coaster that not one single person can prepare you for.
God bless you preschool teachers, God bless you parents of toddlers. I ain’t no way, no how ready for that (and neither is my thin line of patience).
What I can do is teach them . . . in groups of 4 . . . for 30 minutes at a time . . . once a day . . . 3 days a week. Either way, I can do it.
At the end of a 30 minute session, your room might look like a tornado hit it . . .
During these 30 minutes, you might have noticed these plastic jars of people and animals being thrown in the air, landing on an unexpecting friend . . .
You might look around . . . everywhere . . . and see this:
And a little of this:
But then, out of the corner of your ear, some where in the loud, but faint distance, you hear, “I am finding of these that are black and white. I have 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Look Mrs. Allen 5!” Say what? We are playing Animal Hunt . . .COUNT ME IN! We call this teaching in the moment, or in laymans terms . . . thinking on your feet.
Let’s all find the elephants, the giraffes, the polar bears. And the second you think you’ll be cleaning up animals all over your classroom for the next hour, you realize you can turn this mess into a preschoolers fantasy land. Next thing you know there are 4 preschoolers on their hands and knees, crawling, looking, searching for whatever animal you’ve showed them, talked about, and explained. Then they bring them to you, place them in the plastic jar, and count how many they have.
And just when you think they have all been picked up, you see this . . . exactly 2 hours later on your back bookshelf. You smile because honestly how can you not. A little, quick-witted mind left it there, just for you.
Another more objective based sorting game we’ve done in preschool is the behavior sort below. We talk about the things that teachers want us to do and things teachers hope we don’t do. Then we talk about what all the kids are doing in the pictures. We place the pictures on either the smiling face or the frowning face.
As a side note: I came across this article today. It discusses emotional intelligence as the social skill you weren’t taught in school. Just another confirmation that us school counselors are teaching valuable life skills all day long! Keep doing what you’re doing. It is truly making a difference.