I’ve had a few people say I’m a glorified babysitter. That my job is basically just watching kids while their parents are at work. That teaching 3 year olds doesn’t require a degree, and that it’s not being a “real” teacher.
Oooooh… I disagree. Sure, I’m not teaching Shakespeare and syntax, or when Columbus sailed the ocean blue (oh, wait… I do that…), so I will admit that some teaching fields do require a degree. But to say preschool teachers are not “real” teachers is just cruel. So, here are the reasons why preschool teachers are real teachers, too:
1. We create our own curriculum.
I’ll bet many parents don’t even notice the time and effort we put into our curriculums. They just sit pretty in their little page protector sleeves up on our boards, a testimony to what we HOPE to do. And then, of course, there are the parents who demand, “Why isn’t any of this artwork done this week?” Oh… I’m sorry… I had 13 minions bent on chunking crayons at each other’s heads while simultaneously screaming at the top of their lungs. It was a little hard to do our gingerbread hand print ornaments. But I’m glad you noticed!
2. We take work home with us.
Our work day (for most lead teachers) is 8:30 – 5. If we’re lucky, we actually do nothing during our break. If we’re lucky… If we’re not, we’re cutting out clouds for our “weather” week or prepping craft folders for the following week, or doing curriculum, organizing our rooms, making sure there’s no crayon on the walls (seriously, crayons are the devil sometimes), or any other myriad of things. And that often includes after our day is done, clocked out. We’re scurrying to H.E.B. to pick up coffee filters for a flower project, snagging that cute bunch of stickers, grabbing stuff out of our pantries and cabinets for your kids to use.
3. We take your kids home with us, too.
Obviously, not literally, but we do. This isn’t a job you just leave at the door and go about your life. We deal with children’s minds and hearts and lives. That means something to us. Just like school teachers, preschool teachers think about their kids while they’re off the clock. We think about ways to make it easier for our less focused students, our autistic students, our easier students. We figure out ways to help the ones struggling. We worry about how they’re doing at home. It doesn’t stop.
4. We teach your kids JUST as much as any school teacher ever will.
If you’ve ever tried to teach your child their colors or their letters, you know both the joy and frustration it can bring. Magnify that by 10, at least. Often, by 15 or 20. (My age can have up to 28 children with two teachers. Fun times… I’ve had 25 max, though, so that’s good…) Starting in infancy, we teach them to roll, crawl, stand, walk, eat with a spoon, know baby signs, recognize colors and shapes, form words, express their independence, potty-train, begin forming proper sentences, work together, share, respect each other, listen, follow directions, jump twice on one foot and switch to the other, write their letters and numbers, recognize their name, and sometimes begin to read. That’s just the basics. That doesn’t count the daily circle times where we endlessly repeat the days of the week, the weather, the calendar, and the holidays, where we read to your children, where we encourage their sense of curiosity and adventure. That doesn’t include their free play where their brains explode with learning as they act out different scenarios, or the science activities, or the magnet play, or the snuggle time. Your child’s kinder, 1st, 2nd, 10th grade teacher picks up where we leave off, and sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes, it’s not.
I won’t pretend that every school and every teacher in the “daycare” realm is fantastic. Lord knows that not all elementary and above teachers are great at their jobs either. But, we all try. And we preschool teachers put just as much heart and soul into your child as any other teacher will. (Maybe more, because we get to snuggle them and see them from 6:30 to 6:30.)
If you have a child in preschool at any age, thank their teacher today. If she looks like she’s been attacked by flying monkeys, especially thank her. Thank your directors, because they keep us all in line. And remember, we are doing our best for your kids and would love the recognition of being their teacher, too.