I have spent the last 14 years of my life as an Early Childhood Educator, teaching and connecting with some of this world’s youngest and most vulnerable little humans.
In my opinion, it is one of the most important professions—educating the young people today who will eventually be the leaders of tomorrow.
We early educators passionately focus on how to contribute to the sturdy foundations of our students’ lives. I have spent countless hours contemplating the most important lessons to give these young people. What can I pass on to them to ensure they are the most successful people they can be, and that this world is a better place because of them?
Lately, as I envision the sort of knowledge I want to impart on my preschoolers, I find myself struck by the discrepancy of what I am teaching these young ones and what I am seeing in the world around me. I have a strong desire to invite every person on Capitol Hill, and all other adults in this country, to join one of my preschool classrooms for one week. To listen to the teachings as if the future of our country depended on it. Because I do, in fact, believe our future depends on the ways in which we can and do implement these lessons.
Pull up a bean bag. I’ll get you some crackers and juice. Listen closely and, please, take notes. The early educators have something they would like to share.
Here are 10 of the most important pieces of wisdom from our preschool classrooms, to you:
1. The importance of creating a community.
We are all here together. In order for each of us to have a good time, we have to work together. You don’t have to play with everyone. But we will be respectful to everyone in this classroom. We will partner to create a safe and nourishing environment.
2. Be kind to your peers. And all living beings.
Every person here is important. Every being here is important—even the ant on the playground. It feels good when we are treated with kindness, so we will try to extend that kindness to others.
3. All feelings are welcome and there is a healthy way to express anger.
We will get scared, sad, and angry. Each of these feelings is welcome. But it’s never okay to hurt our friends or to call them names. We will find healthy ways to express all of our feelings: breathing, taking a break, talking about it, and creating solutions together.
4. Be helpful to your peers whenever you can.
All of us will need help some days. This makes our community successful—when we take the time to help one another when needed. If someone is hurting or needs help in this classroom, it affects all of us. So we team up to take care of each other.
5. Take care of our planet.
Our earth is the only place we have to live. What can we do every day to make sure we take care of our only home?
6. Celebrate the differences you see in your classmates.
Each of our unique traits makes us special. Look at how different we look, think, and speak. How awesome is that? These are our gifts to the world. We honor these differences in every way.
7. How to take turns. And how to share when you have what you need.
It’s okay if you want to play with a special toy. When you’re done, you can give it to your friend. If you have more than enough, we can make a plan about how to share.
8. You can be whatever you dream.
Let’s pretend we’re doctors, bus drivers, mommies and daddies, astronauts. The President. Yes, of course it’s okay for a boy to wear a princess dress, and a girl to wear a tie.
9. How to express your feelings and what you need.
If you are upset, let’s talk about what you need to feel okay. If you feel left out, let’s come up with a way to feel connected. If you want to play with someone, let’s figure out how to ask them. If you don’t know how to do something, let’s ask someone who does.
10. You are safe here.
You are so important and cared for. You will get what you need while you are here. You are worthy and loved, just as you are.
Every day I am in a preschool classroom, I am reminded of the kind of person I want to be. I want to be the kind of person I am trying to teach these young students to be. They teach me all the time about the best ways to integrate these lessons, as well as how to be forgiving of myself when I fall short.
I hope with all my heart that we can all continue to awaken to the reality that these teachings aren’t just for the tiny humans. They are here to guide us all on how to live peacefully, love, and work with one another as the human family that we are.