I have been teaching at the same preschool for more than half my life. After 25 years in the classroom, I have realized something. There are times in our lives when we need a preschool teacher. A preschool teacher’s job is to let young children experience life and learn from it in the safest, happiest, most supportive way. The preschool teacher’s goal is to guide preschoolers towards independence…we are there for a lot of the “firsts”: first friendships, first time printing letters, first time singing in a show, first time wearing underpants. Since “firsts” happen long after preschool, it seems that everyone should have a preschool teacher.
I realized this when my sixteen year old went for his first driving lesson with his Dad, a neuroscientist. They both came home swearing never to do it again. My husband was convinced that our son was not ready to drive. Our son was sure that his father was too judgmental of his driving. Come to find out, my husband had taken our son to a local parking lot and told him to do his thing. “Start her up and go.” Of course my husband explained how the engine worked and what angles the wheels would need to be at to make certain maneuvers.
The next day I drove to the same parking lot and handed the keys to my son. He just sat in the driver’s seat scowling. I smiled and began the lesson. We went over every inch of his driver’s space. From how to adjust the seat and windshield wipers to how to get the key in and out of the ignition; we learned the basics, even the silly ones, because that is what preschool teachers do. Then I let him drive where ever he wanted in that empty lot and all the while I gave encouragement. I did not gasp or flinch. When he made a mistake, he knew it and adjusted. If he needed me to correct him, I said it plain and clear. That same day we went on to the road. As he led a line of seven cars going the speed limit down a country road, I could see the stress leave his face. He was proud, he was happy, he was gaining independence… with a little help from a preschool teacher.
Submitted by Jennifer Brennan Blute, Director of Tot Spot Preschool located on the Landmark School campus in Prides Crossing, Massachusetts