Thank god for nursery school teachers

My son’s nursery school moved locations over the weekend. Since I’m on the board this year, I helped out a couple nights with cleaning and painting and got to see the fun transformation of a drab, empty space into a new, colourful, activity-filled nursery for energetic preschoolers. At the same time, it was a bit sad to watch the old, once-pretty room slowly get emptied of its decorations and return to being sad and lonely.

The new school

Spending time in the nursery school setting got me thinking about the teachers and what a tremendous job they do, but first, here’s a deep, dark confession: I’m not a kid person. That may sound strange, but I’m sure some of you parents understand. Having my own kids is different, because they’re mine and I feel a deep connection to them, but I’m not someone who gravitates toward children. I don’t like getting down on the floor to play with blocks or cars, or play ‘house’, or dress up dollies, or make play-doh critters. I’m fine with having kids around, but interacting with kids — sometimes my own, but mostly other people’s — requires a lot of conscious effort on my part. It’s just not instinctive.

As a result, I drop off my son at nursery school and get the heck out of there before the panic starts to rise. If I had to stay and take care of all those kids, I’d go crazy, and that’s precisely why I admire his nursery school teachers so much. The world needs all sorts of people to make it run, and thank god for those who derive pleasure from running nursery schools because it’s one tough job.

I once worked as a part-time nanny for a year and it was the toughest job I’ve ever had. It was a wonderful family — I couldn’t have wished for better in every aspect, and they gave me plenty of freedom in a gorgeous home — but it’s just plain hard taking care of someone else’s kids. I’ve given this a fair bit of thought and my conclusion is that nannying, as with teaching in a nursery school, places an expectation on a person to entertain kids actively. There is constant stimulation required because the parents are paying for the care and it would be unprofessional for a nanny or teacher to be off doing their own thing while the kids play. Also, everyone has their own parenting style and caregivers must adhere to that of the parent, regardless of their own inclinations, which can be quite frustrating.

At home, my kids are little sidekicks who amuse themselves mostly, play independently, and follow me around while I perform all my personal duties. While I cook, they bang on pots and pans. When I clean, they dig through the new stuff that appears on the floor. They dig in the sandbox as I do yard work and climb through the piles of laundry as I fold. We do read lots of books together, but rarely do I concern myself with the theoretical side of their development, or even play with their toys. They just go along with my routine and entertain themselves.

1st day of nursery school, Sept 2012

Both styles of child-raising have great benefits, I’m sure, and that’s why I’m happy my kids will have a nice mix. They learn very self-sufficient play when at home with me, and they get the detailed, themed attention to development when they’re at nursery school. While I’m fully content being fairly hands-off mama, boy, do I ever admire those women at the school for having the patience they do. I’d be one big disaster of frazzled nerves after a single morning in that room with sixteen three-year-olds tearing around.

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8 thoughts on “Thank god for nursery school teachers

  1. I am so glad to read someone else say what I feel. I love my kids so much, but I’ve never been a super hands-on mama, which I catch flack from other moms for. They are now all in elementary school and I can see the benefits of my parenting style (they are independent learners, self-sufficient, responsible, and capable) and the negatives (when they’re upset about something, they’re likely to try to “work it out” in their head, rather than coming to me). As you say, it takes all types. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This post makes me smile and miss my old manager a little. Sometimes I’d say to him, “Can you believe Li’l D’s nana forgot [xyz], again?” He’d remind me that there was a reason she was in child care, not administration, and get me thinking how grateful I am she’s in the field she’s in. My son is better for her loving, hands-on attention, a kind which I’m happy to give one or two children (balanced with doing my own tasks) but which I’d be hard-pressed to do with five or six. Bless these teachers, indeed!

  3. I have loved every moment… every single moment… of my daycare(nursery)/pre-school job. Job? It’s hard sometimes to think of it as work… there is just too much reward in it.

    Oh sure, not every day is rainbows and butterflies and there have been days when I got home that the chamomile tea was NOT the first thing I reached for. But even those days, there was always something positive in them. While half of my attention might be on Tommy and making sure he wasn’t eating the orange crayons again, the other half was on Emily and her latest piece of art – that girl is going places some day, mark my words!

    Not wanting to spend your days in a classroom full of children is absolutely no reflection on you as a parent. I would challenge any of those mothers who feel otherwise to spend a couple of weeks in a classroom full of *bouncing/listless/happy/mopy/up/down/thrilled with life/going through their own ‘drama’ at home* children. They might just be whistling a different tune. And if they’re not? They might want to consider a new job… as a teacher! 🙂

    Not everyone – be they a parent or not – is ‘cut out’ to be a teacher. Just like not everyone is ‘cut out’ to be a doctor or rocket scientist or truck driver or actor or… well, you get my point. We all have our ‘calling’. It may or may not change over time. we do what we do because that is what drives us. We all contribute to ‘community’. We all have value.

    When I’ve complimented a mother on how well-behaved their child was and what a joy it is to have them… and they respond with some such remark as we (teachers) see the children at their best, I’m reminded of the challenges parents face (only I’m sure they don’t think of them as ‘challenges’, just part of being a parent) every day.

    We can ‘turn of’ at the end of the class day… step out of our teacher shoes and do whatever it is we do outside the classroom… our ‘alter-ego’ can take over.

    From the moment of conception, a person becomes a parent… and they will always be a parent. They never take off those parent shoes. Even on a Friday night, when a sitter has been engaged and ‘mum and dad’ have stepped out for an evening of ‘grown-up time’… they are still wearing those parent shoes.

    Being a teacher is a wonderful and rewarding vocation. I can only imagine how much more fulfilling being a parent is.

    1. Thanks for your beautiful response, Veronica. I’m sure you’re a wonderful caregiver because of your whole approach and attitude toward it. Love for one’s job comes through one’s actions, and those are some lucky parents to have you there taking care of their kids.

  4. A great post and equally great replies. I am SO with you on this one Feisty, both in the relaxed parenting-style and the immense gratitude to all teachers!

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