When I moved home a year ago, I never thought I'd end up being a teacher, especially for a whole year. I took a job thinking I'd be there a few months before moving on, but I'm so glad that wasn't the case. A group of 3 year olds completely stole my heart and taught me more than I could have ever imagined. So often over the past year I was hearing "thank you" or "how'd you teach my son to learn all his letters.. that's amazing", along with many other comments. As heartwarming as all those compliments were, I couldn't help but stop and think at the end of it all "wow, they were really the ones teaching ME". With our back to school sale in full swing, I wanted to take the time to talk about just how special these young souls with backpacks heading out the door are. I think we can all learn a thing or two from the younger generation.. so I came up with a list of the top 3 things I felt we should take with us in our day to day lives.
Let me tell ya, the term "terrible twos" is just dead wrong. I think it should be "terror threes". I'm not so sure what happens in those 24 hours when they age from two to three, but wowzers is it a shock. Their tantrums are a little bit louder, their attitude is a little bit stronger, and their words.. well their words become real people words and they can use em! Learning to stay calm and not get sucked in to the drama can be a challenge. It definitely didn't happen overnight, but eventually I learned patience is such a virtue. The second you get annoyed they feed off it. So why does having patience with 3 year olds matter? In my opinion, in any career path you choose, you're going to come across people or situations that may test that patience of yours, and I for one firmly believe if I can keep my cool with a group of three year olds, I can probably keep calm in just about any situation I encounter.
2. Laughing at yourself is okay (and welcomed)
Maybe I'm alone on this one, but growing up I was always so concerned about what other people thought about me and doing what was "cool" at the time. That basically all gets thrown out the window if you want to survive in a preschool. I've gotten what feels like pounds of snot smeared on my shirt, had kids pee their pants while in my arms, and the best yet, having a kid mistakenly go number two and then stick his hand on his back finding it on his hand and smearing it on my shirt/arm (thanks Sean). If you can't laugh at yourself and the situation, you may leave crying. Seriously though, if a kid smearing poop on you isn't a funny enough story to tell your friends when you get home from work, I'm not sure what is. The best part is, you'll get to laugh with them (then maybe wave the shirt around at their face if you're a little evil like me).
3. Be kind to everyone around you
This is pretty self explanatory, but I don't think I have ever felt more loved than I did by my class full of kids. Between the hugs, compliments, and "I love you Miss.Kristen" comments, I always knew no matter how bad of a day I was having, they would run up to hug me, do something ridiculous to make me laugh, or tell me they loved me until I cried tears of happiness. Kids pick up on our emotions even at the age of 3, whether you decide to believe it or not.
So take a deep breath, laugh at yourself, and give someone a compliment today. What these kids are doing every day are things I think we as adults could pick up on every now and then when "real life" gets the best of us. You may be surprised how things start to turn around when you take a few life lessons from toddlers. I hope one day (when they can read) my previous students will read this and realize just how big of an impact their actions made.