Walk with me through a lot of details before I get to the stories of my awesome, challenging, amazing job!
Preschool @ The Springs is where I currently work. They are located in a mega church (Church @ The Springs) have children from ages 1 to 5, and while they say preschool, it’s more of a daycare. We have 7 rooms that have different ages:
Caterpillar and Butterfly – They have 1-2yo, but mostly 1’s.
Busy Bees – 2-3yo, but mostly 2’s.
Grasshopper – 2-3yo and they have a even amount of both.
Snails – 3-5yo, though most are around age 3 or 4 with a handful being 5.
Dragonflies and Fireflies – The actual preschool rooms. Children come in the morning and stay until noonish. (I don’t actually know much about those rooms because I’ve never been placed in them.
The ratio’s for children down here in Florida are different (from what I’ve heard) from the state of New York. I was talking to my sister-in-law recently and I think I scared her from ever moving to Florida.
1yo – 6 children to 1 teacher
2yo – 11 children to 1 teacher
3yo – 15 children to 1 teacher
4yo – 20 children to 1 teacher
5yo – 25 children to 1 teacher
It can be intimidating, having 15 little 3 year old toddlers running around, making messes and going crazy. But thankfully, I have not yet dwelt with that yet. (YET!) And hopefully won’t have to!
Rules and codes are also super important in a preschool. My favorite (not really) is washing hands. When I change a child, I have to wipe down the changing area and wash my hands, even if I wore gloves. Even if I use hand sanitizer after wearing gloves. I have to wash my hands. (It makes me inwardly cringe. I’ve washed away so many of my good germs with the bad.) Change the child, wipe the changing area, wash hands, change child, wipe, wash, change, wipe, wash, over and over and over.
There are school rules about dress (which again is good) and keeping our phones out of the room we are in (so it’s not distracting) They encourage us to write about the preschool, and share what’s going on, but to stay positive and shine things in the right light.
There’s more codes during nap time. The mats have to be at least 18 inches apart. Children need to wear their shoes. They need a sheet, blanket and some like their favorite pillow. After nap time, we have to take their sleep garments and put each one in their own bag that is labeled with their name. (Oh yeah, everything is labeled with their name. Their lunch bag, backpack, cups, sheets, coats, diaper packages or designated area for things. First and last name too.) Back to the sleeping mats. After the kids wake up and we take their sheets off, we have to wipe down all the mats. All 8 or 9 or 10 mats. Front and back. It’s not much, but in the moment it can feel like a lot. I’m sure if I sat here any longer, I could think of even more to write about. I’ll spare you those details though and continue on with how I’m doing.
My first week I was placed in Grasshopper and I fell in love with the children. They were crazy like all two and three year olds, but they were also sweet, kind, would listen (sometimes) and were a joy to work with.
I didn’t stay long with them though.
The past three weeks I’ve been on ‘provisional hire’. It basically means my background check hadn’t come back yet, so I couldn’t be left alone with the children. Therefore, when we were on the playground and child needed to use the bathroom and there were two teachers, she or I could not take the child in, we would have to radio for another teacher because I can’t be left alone. If the other teacher changed a child and had to wash her hands, I had to stand at the bathroom door so that she could see me and I could see the children. (I usually volunteered to change children, because I could go into the bathroom alone without the other teacher having to watch me). If a child was washing their hands in the bathroom, getting more soap, washing their hands and getting more soap and not listening to me telling them they need to dry their hands, I could not go into the bathroom alone with the child. I had to have a teacher stand at the door so I could grab them and help them turn the water off and dry their hands. It was frustrating sometimes, but mostly an annoyance.
My second and third weeks there I was a floater. Which means that I went wherever they needed me. My hours were regularly 12-6, but I had a few mornings where they needed me at 9. I would usually start in Grasshopper and eventually I would end up in Busy Bees. Or I would stay in Busy Bees and hop over to Grasshopper to let a teacher wash her hands, or restocked people’s tissues, heated children’s food for lunch, etc.
And mostly I stayed in Busy Bees. These little children (Unlike Grasshopper) were younger, still learning to love their friends well, still learning to use their walking feet, still learning to use inside voices and still learning to listen to their teachers the first time. If I was that age, I would probably have all those ‘still learning’ issues as well.
While Grasshoppers feels easier, I’m grateful that I was placed in Busy Bees (BB) so much. Last week we had the BB and Snail’s swap rooms. Like actual transitioning switch to stay permanently. I don’t know how Snail’s did with the change but BB was having a rough day Monday morning when I got in. I kept telling myself that it was Monday, they were hyper, it was a new room, new change and that’s why they seemed to be more active. Tuesday was a close nightmare. I was with a sweet teacher, Jamie. Both of us were having a workout with our arms from snatching little kids who were trying to run across the floor, to near yelling because children weren’t listening or doing as they were told. It was very rough morning.
The nice thing was I didn’t have to be in the next day until 12 the and noon shift is much, much, much more relaxing and not as chaotic as the morning. I arrived in my favorite shirt, told myself the day was going to be okay, and it wasn’t that bad. (Though I doubt that it had much to do with my shirt) I’ve worked several afternoon’s in the BB with teacher Christina, and she’s really good at keeping the kids on schedule, making sure their daytime paper is filled out, making sure they are listening and doing as they’re told.
This all brings me up to yesterday. Monday. My first day of being officially off of the ‘provisional hire’ and finally able to be alone with the children. Which meant that they (the preschool) were going to put me into a room with 10 children.
Without anyone else.
It. Was. Scary.
Okay, so it wasn’t that bad. It was a new adventure, fun, exciting, challenging and hard. Maybe very hard. I was there in the afternoon alone, so most of the children were already on their mats asleep. 7 down, 3 still awake. Two did okay at staying quiet, reading a book or coloring quietly and listening to me when they would get a little louder. The other was a little more excited. Sadly he had a lot of trouble listening and made some poor choices on how to behave.
About an hour and half later, as the other children slowly woke up, I changed them, gave them snack, started cleaning up their sleeping things, gave them some toys to occupy themselves while this one child tried to gain attention by disobeying a lot. During all this I had two other teachers in and out the room helping be a second pair of hands. With the help of these two teachers, I finally had them all up and given a snack, apart from two that somehow had slept through and noise and chaos of the early afternoon.
After feeding them snack, I had them hold hands, I got to carry a walkie-talkie, (for the first time!!!) and we headed out the door, down the hallway to Snail’s room where there is a door for the outdoor playground. And there the children were let free to run, scream, climb, dig, slid, and swing to their hearts content.
Preschool is not nannying! It’s so different and hard sometimes. Children running everywhere, books being thrown, having three kids on the swing asking “Can you push me higher?” or “I want to go higher!” Or “HIGHER!” But like nannying, it can be so rewarding. There’s one little boy who has this slight southern accent. My first week he couldn’t remember my name and mistook me for another, previous teacher.
(Kid in southern accent) “Mis’ S-aa-ra, can ya push me on the swang?”
(Me) “I’m not miss Sara.”
(Kid) “Oh.” (Pause) “What’s ya name?” (I respond) “Oh.” (Pause) “Mis’ Hii-d-aa, can ya push me on the swang?”
It’s so cute. Just today I saw him outside on the playground, and while I thought he knew my name by now, he had to ask me again what my name is, though at least this time he didn’t call me Miss Sarah.
There’s more rewarding things like the kids that love to chase me, or have me chase them. They run away, laughing and giggling, telling me I can’t get them. There’s the child who wants to be held and points towards a field where cows frequent and asks if they are napping in the shade or drinking water. There’s the children who unexpectedly listening during the day. They sit down when we read a book, they stay on their mat quietly. They give hugs for no reason. There’s the children who will say sorry to their friend for hitting, or even hug their friend. There’s the children who say sorry to me, for not listening. There’s the joy in their faces as they see bugs crawling on the ground, or finding rocks or see their snack is teddy grahams, or get to drink their juice box for lunch.
This job is different from nannying because I am surrounded by ladies who love the Lord and strive to love these children as much as I do. No matter how hard the day is going, or whether or not the children are listening, they all want to see these children grow up to Love God and others. And they talk about each other so lovingly. They encourage me through their actions to love these children well.
When I first started working, I didn’t know if I was making a difference or if anything I did would show up later in all theses children’s lives. But then I remembered that even if I made a difference in one child’s life, by holding them and looking at cows, or hugging them through their hurt, they may look back on their days in this preschool and remember that they had an awesome teacher who loved them as unconditionally as her human heart could.
No day is drama free and easy. But having this opportunity to have children hug me at the end of the day, despite the deep breaths and prayers they put me through, makes each and every day worth it.