Ever since I was little, I remember wanting to teach those who were younger than me. Around age eight, I would go next door and try to help my four-year-old neighbor learn how to spell her name. I felt so accomplished when she was able to write a “K,” the letter her name began with. Now, at twenty years old, my passion for teaching has only grown stronger, and I’ve realized that little ones, aged five and younger, are the children I truly want to work with.
I worked as the interim lead teacher in the two/three classroom at Alamance Community College in 2013. While working there, I had quite the handful of little ones, and learned how to help them with social, behavioral, and cognitive struggles. I remember specifically working with these children and their families, each and every day, and feeling like i had to assist in their growth and make a difference.
The moment that I realized that I was meant to work with little ones, opposed to just any age, was when, at Christmastime, I had several parents write me long letters about how thankful they were that their children had a teacher like me. Reading the kind words of these parents made me feel that despite the days when I felt too stressed to go on, I really was making a difference. Now, I know that most parents won’t tell me they appreciate me or that I’m doing a good job, however I see the results of my work, as well as the others around me.
There are numerous instances that have solidified my drive to work with younger children, however one sticks out at the moment. I worked with a child who, everyday, would act out in anger and frustration about clean-up time. Every single morning, I would give him a warning about clean-up time at five minutes, three minutes, and one minute before it was time to put away toys. Despite my efforts, he still had a very hard time with the transition, and I would have to sit with him until he “calmed his body” as we said, and then work with him to clean up his toys. One day, when it was time to clean up before breakfast, he became frustrated, but instead of throwing a toy or yelling, he said, “I’m mad. I need to go sit down and calm my body.” The fact that I got through to this child at two and a half years old amazes me. Some say, “maybe he just had to come to the decision to do the right thing on his own,” but I truly feel that I made a difference, as small as it may have been.
Now, I don’t want this post to sound like I’m bragging on myself, because that’s not my intention. My intention is simply to answer the question above, “Why little ones?” Why did I choose to work with such young children? The simple answer: the younger a child, the greater need for a strong foundation. Children come from all walks of life, and if I can be a teacher who has a positive impact on a child, making them feel important and valued, I’ve done my job. That’s why I work with little ones, to help provide the foundation they need for their future.