A Note to Pre-school teachers
Pre-school teachers according to me are the most important part of any school faculty. They have to be the most loving, empathetic, sensitive and understanding. They must appreciate the psychological needs of the four year olds. The young ones at four are in their own unique world which is a heavenly place filled with dreams. They live a life supreme totally unaware of anyone else better than themselves. Their lives revolve around themselves and grown-ups who love them.
The natural tendency of the teachers when the child is going through this phase is to start lecturing. The little ones do not understand words of wisdom. They will only play if they are declared winners, even before the game starts. It becomes imperative for the teachers to play only those games where everyone is a winner. The children need to be given confidence that yes, they are winners and the world revolves around them. If the teachers accept them as they are without pointing fingers at them, do not argue with them or lecture them, the children will turn out to be confident individuals in their later life.
As necessary as it is to teach children good values, one also needs to accept their need to believe in their own super power. In their play oriented classrooms focused on collaborative learning, they are bound to pick up good values from each other. It is good to make the child feel like a king or queen by relaxing the rules in the classroom. Do not take tantrums seriously. They will disappear if the teachers are empathetic at this stage. It does not matter if the children are racing up the stairs or running around the room, as long as there is no risk of getting hurt, go as slowly as it takes to ensure that the children are happy and victorious.
Similarly, if a child tells you she is the best, fastest, smartest, tallest and most adorable kid in the class or bus or park do not argue with them. Just listen good naturedly. Do not shatter their image by pointing out their flaws or packing do’s or dont’s in their day.
Children take for granted their importance and deeply fear the loss of this power. The result is that they may crumble or get extremely argumentative, if they are not allowed their way or realise that there may be another one who may get the better of them.
Children do not understand competition or code of conduct in classrooms at such an early age. From being the centre of attention at home the little ones are suddenly surrounded with their peers each one having his own air of supremacy.
As the school year progresses children starts noticing the world around them; they get stronger in body and mind and start caring little about winning or losing. This is the time when they can be introduced to rules. They can be informed about the rules of the real world and that their friends long to be number one just as much as they do so everyone needs to get a chance to be first. If they love their friends they will understand this. While the children are playing, the teachers need to be cautious as when the child’s longing to be number one infringes on another’s rights, he needs to be gently set straight about the rules and can be made to understand that the game may not start if the he is not yet capable of being a gracious loser or winner.
The delivery has to be subtle, the teachers may need to reason out with the children on multiple occasions but remember they are butterflies just out of their cocoons getting ready to fly. Give them wings, do not discourage or bound them, give them the right impetus so that they can fly.
At the beginning of the school journey, as teachers, do not worry that if you indulge the children they may not learn sportsmanship. Play with them and love them. By indulging them now you will give them something precious that will benefit them all their lives. Most of us have within us a little voice that revs up when we are feeling down. When things get tough, that little voice eggs on us with the conviction that somehow we will prevail. That voice is the vestige of the four year old children. So if you want the children’s future to be triumphant, do not silence the voice. Let them ‘crow’ they are only four.
Dr Shayama Chona, is the former Principal of Delhi Public School, R K Puram, New Delhi; Founder President of Tamana (NGO for physically & mentally handicapped children); Founder of Anubhav Shiksha Kendra (a school for the under-privileged); she has been a member of 96 Advisory Boards and Committees; she has been nominated to Managing Committees of 46 schools and other educational institutions; she has been named in the Limca Book of Records 2007. She has been awarded the State Award for Services in Education 1993, National Award for Services as a Teacher of Outstanding Merit 1994, National Award for Outstanding Performance for Welfare of People with Disabilities 1997, Padma Shri 1999, Padma Bhushan 2008, and 49 other awards. She lives at C10/8, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi-110057. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com