When I was about 13 years old, I found myself on the living room floor of a family friend’s house enjoying a game of Chutes and Ladders with three delightful children. By the time we finished watching a movie while having a bowl of chocolate ice cream with rainbow sprinkles and reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, I realized I wanted to spend my life working with children.
Every day in first grade I would walk into the class and go to the blue carpet to find a different shape made out of blocks of every size and color. We would have to match this shape that my teacher created by using the blocks he had out for us before we could move on to the next activity. When students finished assignments early, we could have free time to play with any toy in the classroom. Every student also knew that discipline was key, and that if they acted up they would either get spoken to by the teacher or have to stand by the door for a “time-out”. My teacher also made sure to make jokes. One class he pretended to yell at me and one of my friends and sent us to the door where we thought we were in trouble. He then picked my friend up and sat her on top of the clock that was on the wall. To this day, we still laugh about it. During my junior year, I reached out to my first-grade teacher. He was one of the best teachers I had, and I wanted to get a better understanding of his classroom. When my teacher and his 21 kindergarteners welcomed me with, “Good Afternoon,” I was certain the classroom was where I was supposed to be. Seeing the bulletin board covered with the calendar, students’ birthdays, basic math problems, and alphabet letters made me feel at home.
During my high school career, I had the opportunity to run a preschool. There were nine preschoolers that would come in twice a week, and we would organize lessons, have snack time, have free play, and teach the children basics that they would need to go into kindergarten. I loved planning the lessons, teaching, and being with the children. I devised a lesson with a Thanksgiving theme. We had circle time where we read a story Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks and did circle time activities, such as pin the feather on the turkey. We then painted the children’s hands in whatever color they wanted, put their hand on a piece of paper to make a turkey card. The children decorated with feathers, googly eyes, and any other materials of their choice. Seeing all the children laughing when getting their hands painted because it tickled or laughing when they put glitter or the googly eyes all over the turkey, created a sense of accomplishment because the children enjoyed the activity.
From all those opportunities and experiences I learned the principles of hard work and discipline. When children would cry because they wouldn’t want to leave their parents, I distract them with other activities. I have witnessed misbehaving children and have developed skills and knowledge on how to handle these situations in the future. I have gained skills on how to balance work and play by making activities educational but interesting. In my lesson for child development, we were able to teach the children how to write a letter, but incorporated an activity to express their creativity. From the moment I played school in my basement as a five-year-old, to playing Chutes and Ladders with the three young children I babysat, to shadowing and interacting with children, I knew the classroom was the setting I was meant to be in.