“Oh, you’re a preschool teacher? That must be so fun getting to play with little kids all day!”
This is a statement preschool teachers hear a lot. Leading us to believe that we are just glorified babysitters (I for one, have never sat on a baby- so, there’s that).
The world sees early childhood teachers as kid wrangling (okay, we do that), snot-wiping (yeah, we do that too), boo-boo kissing (fine, yes…that too) adults pretending to be real educators.
We just play all day… right?
Oh, dear sweet society… you are so wrong.
Let me throw a little research your way….
Data compiled by the Rauch Foundation found that 85 percent of the brain is developed by the age of five years old.
5 years old, which is before students even enter a traditional school setting.
Early Childhood Professionals (aka- preschool teachers) know a lot about this. While it may seem like we are putting out some toys, singing the ABCs and do arts and crafts… we are actually crafting a space and experiences that allow children to explore. When children explore, children learn.
Those that work with the youngest of children (arguable) are the best at understanding and encouraging learning through the way the brain was intended. Through play and exploration. Who sets up these experiences for exploration? We do. We plan, prep and execute. There is thought and purpose behind everything we do. There is no just putting out some toys and hoping for the best.
Our knowledge of child development guides our plans. We have goals for our students, we collect and use data. We aren’t just winging it. But, we also know how to be flexible and creative- because let’s be honest… when working with little humans not everything goes as planned!
But, it is not all about academics. We teach so many social skills that people in general need to be successful. No, hitting William because he took your toy is not a good way to handle the situation. When you are a grown-up, it is called assault. Instead we teach children how to handle those situations now. Oh, and don’t get me started on coat zipping, pants buttoning or snack opening… someone has to teach those things - parents and preschool teachers!
You see, we are on the front lines. We are the first school-like experience children have. We are the groundwork (your welcome Kindergarten teachers). We work to instill a life-long love of learning…talk about a lot of pressure!
Preschool teachers are the unsung heroes of the education world.
But, truthfully… it isn’t about us.
It is about the children.
Preschool teachers everywhere aren’t doing the job because it pays- we do it because we love it. We do it because we get to see the growth of a child right in front of our eyes. It is our passion.
So, the next time you hear someone say “Oh, those preschool teachers just play all day” - serve them up a little knowledge on the subject. The world and our children in it will be better for it.