Why I'm So Thankful For Nursery School Teachers

Family Matters on 11.14.12
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Photo: tuchodi/Creative Commons

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 room for energetic preschoolers. Spending time at the nursery school setting got me thinking about the teachers and what a tremendous job they do. These women throw their hearts and souls into their work, caring for kids who belong to other people, comforting the sobbing ones, calming the agitated ones, and always exhibiting such impressive patience.

It’s tough for me to imagine working there because, despite being a stay-at-home mom and loving it, I don’t gravitate instinctively toward kids. My parenting style is very hands-off; I don’t like getting down on the floor to play with blocks or cars, or dress up, or make play-doh critters. I love having kids around, but interacting with kids requires a lot of conscious effort on my part. As a result, I drop off my son at nursery school and get 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. 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 not an easy job.

I once worked as a part-time nanny for a year for 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 concluded 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 childcare and it would be unprofessional for a nanny or teacher to be off doing their own thing while the kids play.

At home, though, my kids are little sidekicks who amuse themselves mostly, play independently, and follow me around while I do my own thing. I rarely consciously entertain them. They bang on pots while I cook; they tunnel through laundry piles as I fold; they dig in the sandbox when I’m working in the yard. I’ve never concerned myself with their theoretical development, but I’m happy my son has a healthy balance of both styles. He learns very self-sufficient play when at home with me and gets detailed, organized, themed-based attention when he’s at nursery school. While I’m fully content being a hands-off mama, I certainly do admire those women at the school for patiently managing a room of sixteen three-year-olds tearing around at breakneck speed. My son is lucky to have them in his life.

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