Today we went to open house at my sons school. Both my boys attend a little Montessori school in Nashville, and they both started when they were 18 months old. Open house is when we get to go and observe what goes on in the classroom and how the children spend their days. It’s fascinating to see the materials they use and the procedures they follow. I was excited to see this because my two-year-old is a “TWO-YEAR-OLD.” He’s stubborn, strong headed, determined and I’m always concerned that he would be a distraction to the other kids, because he keeps us constantly on the move at home.
We arrived at 7:45AM and all the kids were in the classroom seated in a circle. The teacher sat with 5 toddlers in a circle and said “Good morning, Manning.” Manning responded, “Good morning.” Then the teacher said, “You may chose your work.” She calmly did this with every child in the group. Once they said good morning, they could get up from the circle and begin their day. In this class the children are 18 months to 3 years old. The older children knew the drill and were very cooperative. The younger ones would sometimes respond appropriately, and when they didn’t the teacher, “Miss Heather,” would repeat herself and explain, “Once you say good morning, you may chose your work. Good morning so and so.”
It was 5 kids, but the process took quite a bit of time. I caught her eye and mouthed the words ,”Everyday? Do you do this every morning?” She said, “This is how we start our days.” When she got to my energetic little fella, she said “Good morning, Jonah.” He reached behind him and grabbed a toy. “Jonah?” she said, “Good morning.” He started to lie back and make noise. “Jonah, you may join us in the group and say good morning.” Man, talk about follow through. The teacher kept her cool and followed through like no one I have ever seen. I mean, come on! You tell your child to do something at the age of two, and they refuse, you pick them up and make them do it, right? No! The follow through is what counts. The “being consistent” with the request and sticking with it until the child “listens to your words.” That takes commitment. Truly, it’s a special type person that does this gig.
I know that after extended periods of time with my two children, my instructions aren’t so “calm.” Here “Miss Heather” deals with 5-7 of someone else’s kids under the age of 3. I’m not a yeller, and we’re not parents that spank (though my folks did give spankings with everything from yard sticks to brooms – ha!) but, the calm and collected, perfectly delivered instructions or explanations seem to vanish from existence at times. I sat back and was amazed over and over. She took time with every child to instruct, re-instruct, direct, redirect, teach, share and even talk to me without a single meltdown (by her).
As the morning continued, the classroom remained calm and quiet. All of the children did their individual work. “Miss Heather” going from one child to the other to assist with work, teach a child to blow their nose, potty train them. As my husband and I “observed”, it struck me. I think my sons teacher scares me. I pondered all morning about how she does this every day and her head has yet to explode. She hasn’t quit her job. She doesn’t carry a flask around with her. She doesn’t even complain when her kids have a bad day. If they do, she explains the behavior and probable reason as well as how she resolved or handled the situation. I don’t think she’s human. She has to be from another planet. Maybe some science experiment or robot like you’d see in a Tom Cruise movie. That’s what scares me. There is some super being teaching my child. Helping him to develop into a self confident, functioning part of this world. He spends a large portion of the day, five days a week in the presence of this magical creature. I wonder if he realizes, when he gets home, that I am just a girl doing my best to fumble through each day hoping I don’t do any major damage. After all, they didn’t give me the manual when they sent these beautiful kids home with me. When and if he does realize this, will he then begin to really give me a “run for my money?”
As scary as she is, I’m going to observe her a bit more. Maybe do a little investigating to see if I can figure out what planet she is from. Once I do, I’ll report back. At that point we should go there and bring several of them back here because every toddler should have a teacher as wonderful as “Miss Heather”
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