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Voices from Classroom: Preschool teacher, tired at end of active day, wonders ‘Did we do enough?’

By Natalie Kordenbrock
Montessori Early Learning Academy

Are we doing enough?

Early mornings small, tired faces shuffle in through the door. By mid-morning those same small faces are full of energy, running at full speed around a classroom. They are completely unaware that they’ve knocked over baskets of blocks and crayons, and if they did, they wouldn’t think it was wrong.

Preschool teachers teach our youngest of learners. From ages 6 weeks to about 5 years, children are in early learning centers. These are the ages that are running around the room at full speed, paying no attention to anything around them. This is the age at which teachers will prepare children for their life of learning, and those same teachers will constantly be concerned that they aren’t doing enough.

Preschool teachers, like all teachers, go home exhausted at the end of each day. We have our small students for about 10 to 12 hours a day. In this day filled with diaper changes, potty training, preparing meals, and tying shoes, we have to guide these learners in social/emotional skills, language skills, numbers, reading, and writing. It’s a lot to fit in, in one day. There are days many preschool teachers want to give up, but there are days where we are thrilled with the progress being made.

A preschool teacher’s day begins with serving breakfast, potty breaks, and then helping these energetic bodies relax for circle time. Circle time is quite the challenge for a three year old, ball of energy being asked to sit “crisscross-apple-sauce” in a circle with other energetic three year olds. One wants to run around playing “duck-duck-goose,” and one thinks it’s time to read stories. It’s amazing that one little song about the days of the week can bring them all together, sitting nicely, ready for circle time. We sing, we jump up and down, we count, and we say what we’re going to do for the day.

After circle time we break into groups, half of the little bodies with one teacher, the other half with the other teacher. We play with different things while trying to learn. Building blocks isn’t just building blocks, it’s using our fine motor skills while experiencing colors and patterns. Playing “house” isn’t just playing “house” it’s learning to use our manners and be social with friends.

While trying to teach we may have to stop a tantrum from beginning, or put a band aid on a “boo-boo.” We’ll have to clean up an accident and tie a shoe or two. We do each thing with patience and love, even if we’re frustrated because we’re trying to prepare these children for school beyond preschool.

The end of the day comes and families pick up these little learners. We’ll give hugs good bye, and say “see you tomorrow.” We may have to help a tired mom pull away her child from the toy they’ve been playing with, saying “we’ll save it for you for tomorrow.” We’re tired too, and we’ll look at the mess and think that we just didn’t do enough and between all the little things we’ll just never have enough time to do enough.

Natalie Kordenbrock

We’ll clean our floors and organize our shelves, preparing them only to be a mess the next day. As tired as we are and as ready as we are to quit we’ll hear one child say, “Look mom, I made a pattern!” before they leave. We’ll smile so big because though we’re worn and concerned we’re not doing enough, that one proud child will prove to us that we are.

Children, Inc., a United Way Agency Partner, is a highly rated nonprofit provider in child care, family support, and school age services in Greater Cincinnati. Our multi-generational approach to fighting poverty our community as well as our work in advocacy, training, and research builds a strong foundation for success for over 3,000 children and families in our region every year.

To learn more about the organization, please visit the website.

Natalie Kordenbrock is a preschool teacher at Montessori Early Learning Academy of Children, Inc. It is located in Covington.

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