Some years ago, I was dreaming of teaching teens and being that cool teacher that I always longed to have and never really did. Well, so it happened that I was always assigned to teach very young kids until my path led me to work with preschoolers. I used to be so worried that they were too fragile or unpredictable and I wouldn’t know how to approach them.
Well, “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need”. The very young kids I’ve taught over the years have become my little gurus. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity of knowing them and learning from them about myself and about life.
When I interact with adults and something goes wrong, I get plenty of opportunities to blame the other person involved. But when it comes to young kids, they most often do things because of reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with me. All that’s left is an empty space where my echo hits me right back and I get to see clearly what I say, do and how it’s being put out there.
One of the things that struck me most about young children is their ability to read you. We so very often underestimate them, thinking they don’t know what’s going on in the larger scheme of things. An important lesson I’ve learnt is that children know. They know even when they don’t know they know. That’s why, when I interact with my students, I often open up to them and let them know what’s going on. If I’m happy, I tell them why and if it’s been a long day, I share that too. I try to let them know that if they feel something is not smooth enough, it’s nothing they did.
Another beautiful insight I received from working with children is that there is a right time for everything and for everyone. My job is to guide them on the path to discovering written words and the ideas behind them. I had to learn, through what was sometimes a painful personal process, that all this teaching thing is not about me. I may wish to add a skill to my students’ lives, but they have their own intricate canvas that’s being painted and if what I have is not what they need at a certain point in time, I have to let it go. The right time will come, I may be there, or I may not.
Teaching young children has also reminded me of a precious truth that oftentimes eludes us. We meet, and we do not meet randomly. And when there is an encounter, it most often goes beyond what prompts that meeting. There are sometimes important messages to be delivered, questions to be asked and answers to be given. We don’t meet by chance.
Lastly, getting to know young minds has shown me that children come to the world complete and absolutely unique. They may not be able to always reflect on what is going on in their lives, yet everything they are and will ever be is already there, waiting to be accessed. There is nothing we need to do but gently prompt them to find their own original paths to opening up to the best of the endless possibilities they came here to explore.
My hope is that our awareness will continue to grow into allowing us to see that, no matter what position we are in when we interact with children, we have the sacred duty of not imposing our views and needs on them. All we can do is lovingly guide them on their own special journey knowing they each have a personal story that will develop into a unique narrative which will not always include us.
I also hope that we can show children that beyond what we say we do, what we say we are, beyond schooling, and jobs and musts and shoulds, there is a deep river flowing through all of us. It’s in the depths of everything we know and nothing would be without it. It’s the truth about why we are all here and it streams gently in our hearts.
My belief is that if we can inspire children to listen to their intuition, in addition to all the knowledge we provide on a daily basis, we can lay the stepping stones for happier future generations to walk on.