by Andrea Puckett

Two years ago, I went back to school. It wasn’t a college or a professional program, but it was preschool. This was my first time at attending a preschool because when I was a child I told my mom that I didn’t want to go to one and she didn’t send me. I attended not as a student but as a teacher. However, I think that I was the one that gained a world of knowledge.

Finding a Happy Place
Preschool can be such a happy place to visit because you have warm hugs and big smiles. The children really care about you and trust you and they really appreciate what you do for them. It is a place filled with all day playtime and cookies and punch. However, when you are the person who is in charge of running the preschool the happy preschool can make you frown.

I learned more from the children than they learned from me. There is a whole diverse world inside of the preschool that combines cultures, races, different religious backgrounds, and different teaching methods. It was fascinating to just watch the children all get along not knowing any biases of the people just knowing what they liked and didn’t like.

Consistent Help
The only problem with working at a preschool was that without enough consistent help you stayed stressed out because you didn’t have enough eyes to watch or enough hands to take care of all that you needed to take care of. Also, there was a problem of having qualified staff that thought more about the personal fun and satisfaction of the children than of themselves.
In the role of a preschool teacher, I found that I was a doctor, teacher, mother, father, sister, friend, matchmaker, babysitter, and therapist to the students and the parents.

I found it interesting that single parents often used the preschool as a way to meet other single parents. They found that they could use the work out facility of the preschool to spend time not only with their children but to establish relationships with other single parents.

Lessons Learned
If you have enough helping hands, playtime is fun
It is difficult to be everything for everyone. If you have extra hands to entertain and to wipe noses then you don’t overwhelm yourself.

Anything can be fixed with a hug and a smile
When you are two, a hug and a smile can solve most tragedies. However, you might need some extra special time with a special friend such as your teacher to make you feel whole again.

Adults are the ones that often complicate the world
Children are basic and want love and to be cared for which is often the easy part. However, when adults label and put rules on situations then no longer does a kiss and a hug fix the world.

Naptime isn’t just for kids
Naptime is a pleasant experience if little Johnny isn’t running around the room or if Susie isn’t playing with dolls. There is a special personal fulfillment that goes into rubbing a back and getting a child to go to sleep. This was the time of day that teachers and students took a break from each other and regained their sanity.

Adults have entertaining ways to get them through the day of working at a preschool
I worked with a gentleman who would smoke pot or drink to get through the day of working there. When I reported his activities, they didn’t take any action. I found that to be a productive preschool the administration had to trust their staff and had to want to make their facility a better place.

Adults have different ways of enforcing their point
Different cultures and different people have different methods of punishment. As a teacher, there is little that I can do physically to children to make them understand that we don’t do certain behaviors. Some teachers overstepped their boundaries and pulled ears and locked students in closets and the administration did not take action to discipline the teachers

Students are special and some in more ways than others
Each child has certain qualities that are wonderful. However, if a child is dealing with certain developmental issues some parents go into denial and do not seek out help for their child. Most of the children that I worked with were with me for eight hours a day and I got to observe their behaviors over a period of time. Many parents thought that I was lying to them about developmental concerns and administration did not take action to help unless their job was on the line. What parents needed to understand is that if we could get their child help now then we can find ways to work with the problem instead of letting the problem progress and we can set them up for success in elementary school.

Two years ago, I went back to school and learned that sometimes you have to go back to the basics to remember and relearn what is important in life. Children do not care if their parents drive a BMW or a Honda. They do not care if they have designer clothing or KMART clothing. Children really want someone to love them and to take care of them. In today’s world it is often the case that mom and dad have to work to pay the bills and putting their child in full day preschool is the only answer. However, I wish that parents could go back to preschool and learn that spending time with people and forming lasting relationships is the key to having happy children. I do not work in a preschool anymore but I take the lessons that I have learned with me and since I have quit the preschool and have entered into other jobs have learned that life is about teaching others from the path that you walk down and that in a professional work environment you often do various forms of babysitting.