By Brianna Dioses
Today I had the absolute pleasure and privilege to enter the amazing world of Pre-K, better known as preschool. This being a rarity in TCNJ practicum placements, I was thrilled to be able to take advantage of such an opportunity. Before the clock struck 3:30, I had saved a princess from a dragon, had five cups of coffee, five salads, five eggs, and I single-handedly hosted a pirate birthday party. In this wonderful world, all of this and more is possible. Contrary to popular belief, four-year olds sometimes problem-solve and categorize better than the average adult. The three- and four- year olds I worked with today made probably close to 500 choices. Although some choices resulted in not-so-nice timeouts and insincere apologies, all of those students were able to learn from those choices, and I can say that today I learned much more than I have in the past. This time around, I learned how to treat the students as individuals and how to nurture and love them so that they don’t lose sight of their own imaginations.
Here are some tips and tricks I learned from my first day at East Amwell Elementary School:
- There is no hitting in preschool. Unfortunately, a student struck me today after I told him he couldn’t drag another friend around on her bike just because she had the bike and he wanted his turn right then and there. (Yeah, I know: how dare I!) The student, with lots of coaxing, apologized and the teacher’s aid made it quite clear to him—there is no hitting in preschool, and hands need to be kept to themselves—a lesson that never really gets old.
- Play is the most amazing form of therapy and exploration. Like I said earlier, I did probably a million different things today and assumed nearly 50 different roles through my students’ play and imagination. KIDS NEED TO PLAY. With this new standard and that new standard, the importance of play should never be disregarded. Students learn so much more from play than any textbook could ever teach them. Let kids be kids, and on that same note, let college students be kids from time to time.I am sure I am not alone in saying this week has been “stress on stress on stress.” Words cannot express how amazing it felt to step off TCNJ’s chaotic campus and just pretend to be someone else for a hot second: pretend that I had lightning powers that could put out all the fires in the world, or that I was captain of my own ship.
- Never underestimate a child, no matter what age. Children’s minds are as deep as the ocean. They have such a huge capacity to learn and understand. Three- and four-year olds have infinite spaces for learning and absolutely love to do it. My practicum teacher had the students role-play in different imaginary rooms of a house, and each student was able to learn something new in each of the centers. Today a student learned that they can’t wash their clothes in a washer if they don’t put some type of soap in it first (a lesson some college students don’t ever fully grasp). We can learn something pretty valuable from these intelligent preschoolers, and I can’t wait to see them again next week!