I’m writing this uncertain of whether I will get permission to post this as it relates to a couple of families in the preschool and though I’m not using names, I know they may wish to keep their information private. I just feel compelled to share because it was so absolutely lovely to witness. So if you’re reading this, then you know that the families involved have read and approved my draft before posting.
There are many times when a young child finds it difficult to leave parents and come to preschool. For some children it is an easy transition and for others it is more difficult. I truly admire the children who come from another country to an English speaking preschool when English is not their native language. It is incredible to think that this very young child has moved across the world and is now immersed in a completely new culture. Not only that, the child must adjust to a new preschool and say goodbye to parents. As an Early Childhood Educator, I have developed many strategies to help distract and engage young children and to help them adapt to their new and different surroundings.
We’ve had a child, “I”, who has just begun at the preschool and has had many teary days. She and her family moved to Canada from another country. Even with little practice speaking English, she was able to get out the sentence, “When will my Mommy be here?” between sobs. I gave some preschool photos to the family of for her to take home with her in the hope it might help the adjustment. Our ECEA spent a lot of time with her at the preschool when I was otherwise occupied. I showed her lots of photos of our daily routine to help explain what we do and when her family would come to pick her up. I spent time distracting with stories and finding engaging activities for her to keep busy until Mommy came. And I also left her alone to explore the preschool on her own and find her own way knowing that in her own time, she would adjust.
And today, such a lovely thing happened. Our parent helper today is also from another country and English is not her first language. She was so understanding of this child. And such a natural in the helper role. She sat down at the table with a few children and showed them how they could use scissors to cut out some calendar photos of wildflowers that were on the table. The children really enjoyed her calm presence. And then her daughter, “M”, who is the same age as our new child, “I”, sat down at the table too. They focused on the drawing and cutting and glueing and after awhile, they started to smile. Pretty soon the smiles turned to laughter as their fingers became sticky from the glue. Their faces lit up with delight. When you looked at them, you might have thought they’d been friends for life. Their shared experience brought them together. And I know our “helper mom” will remember this day. I will remember it too.
Moments like these are so special. Money cannot buy these experiences. Our parent helpers put a lot of work into the preschool to keep things running smoothly. They give a great deal of their own time at a time in their lives when they are busy with their own children and sometimes very tired and sleep deprived. Still, the rewards are great. And to witness that is the most amazing gift a preschool teacher can have. I cannot say enough about parent participation preschool; yes, there is work but there is no duplicating the experiences you can share with your child and their first friends in life. They are ordinary moments that are memorable and beautiful and absolutely priceless.
Was this simply a Chance Encounter? I like to think it was not.