Friday, June 19, 2015

Two Things that Make Me Cringe

My nemesis
Do you have any particular activities or supplies that you just avoid? Things that other early childhood teachers may embrace or celebrate but that make you cringe when you think of them? I do.

Last week I taught in a four-year-old Vacation Bible School class and was confronted by my old nemesis - glitter. We were making ocean bottles and my lead teacher set out a container of glitter to use (with other materials). I pushed it aside and no one saw it for a while. Then one boy wanted to add some to his bottle - and of course everyone else did, too. I did my best to clean the funnel but I think there's still some clinging to it, sparkling away. I did get it all off my hands. Eventually.

Then, today I was skimming through posts online and I came to this post. I was immediately reminded of the other activity that I continually avoid as much as possible. Spray bottle painting. (I can hardly type the words!) A few years ago, we did this little gem and I vowed then that I wouldn't do it again. And I haven't yet. We put liquid watercolors in small spray bottles. Kids sprayed the paint onto paper at the easel. And created puddles on the floor. And saturated paper so much that I could barely peel the paper from the easel. (I'm sure some of those are still drying somewhere in a teenager's house.) My easel still has flecks of green and blue paint embedded in the sides.

But I'm reminded that not all activities or materials are desirable to all teachers - or all kids. I often do things that other adults have said, "I would never...." I have had kids refuse to do something - for whatever reason. I once had a two-year-old who refused to do anything that would get his hands dirty. He once touched a small pile of shaving cream with his palm and immediately had to wash off the pin-sized spot from his hand.

We must be respectful. If a teacher doesn't feel comfortable with an activity, it's okay. Even if that activity is our favorite one. It's okay. I should not impose my "love" for something on someone who doesn't really care for it. Too many times (especially online) I see judgments or unkind words hurled back and forth over a particular material or activity. I'm glad to help an unsure teacher know the best way to do something. But it's not my place to try to force someone to do something he doesn't want to do.

And that includes kids. I can encourage. I can offer. I can modify. But, ultimately, if I force a child to get his hands dirty when he doesn't want to do so, all I've taught him is that I'm bigger and can "make him" do things. He won't enjoy it or learn from it. I should use all that energy in learning what he enjoys and finding ways to encourage those interests and explorations.

And, yes, I'm Team NoGlitter forever!

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