TCS Times February 2020

From the Director: Here and Now

By Nicole Shadduck, Education Director

Most of us have heard recently about the importance of being present in the ‘here and now’.  Being present, practicing mindfulness and living in the moment are key phrases in our lives. So what does it look like in a classroom and how does it impact children’s experiences?

Picture this:  a four year old child is moving from her classroom into a combined group for our late day program. When entering the extended day classroom, she happily joins in a game of building MagnaTile buildings with a group of classmates. While looking around the room, she notices kitties and doggies that she has not used in her room recently. She gets up and selects a small cat, gets distracted by a story and then heads back to where she was playing to find another child playing with HER building.

This did not go well.

 There were tears, lots of tears. And there was yelling. Wow, there was yelling.  I held her and talked to her. I could have rushed her through the problem, picked her up, collected the MagnaTiles and worked with the group to make a plan for who was using which pieces and what the game would be. This would have been a correct and perfectly acceptable way to work through the problem and certainly a method I have used and will use again. But not this time.

 We sat and then we sat a little longer. I began to reassure her that I was there and I could help. I continued to talk while she recovered. I told her I would help when she was ready and after a little more time, she was ready to play. I stood up and we walked over to the group. I explained to the children that she was playing and got up to get her cat and needed to know what she could do in the game. They invited her in, but that wasn’t quite the solution she was looking for.  The solution was more MagnaTiles, or so I thought.

 We walked over to the shelf of manipulatives and retrieved a second box of magnet builders. When bringing more blocks to the game, she noticed a pair of dress up shoes and started to leave the game again. I stopped her and said, “Yes, you can get a pair of dress up shoes but right now we are carrying the box of magnets. You can choose to join in the magnet game or go put on the dress up shoes.”  The dress up shoes ‘won’ and she didn’t return to the MagnaTiles.

The problem wasn’t only about the magnets, the stuffed cat or the shoes. It was about being in the moment. It was about being present and experiencing feelings. This is so important for us and for children in our care and classrooms.

I was able to be present with this child because I intentionally put all my office in order, set my phone aside and decided that tomorrow would be the day I thought about the ‘What Comes Nexts?’, about enrolling for next year and returning 3 emails and 2 phone calls.  Young children need the adults in their lives to be present in order to be ‘in the moment’ themselves.

Fast forward to Wednesday morning:  I wake up hours before my alarm goes off, ready to get up, get dressed and get out the door because I have the best story to share in this month’s newsletter!  From the darkness, I hear, “It’s early. Why are you getting up?”

I grit my teeth as I am already thinking about what is coming next and start to tell my list of plans for the day. I stop and think, “Well, now I am a hypocrite.”  I snuggle back into my pillow for just a few minutes and practice ‘being present.’ After a few minutes of peace and quiet, I remind myself again to be ‘in the moment’.  I say, “I love you and have a good day” and get myself out the door.  Slowing down and being in the ‘here and now’ is the key to me feeling connected (and happy) about my day while I deal with and prepare for the ‘What Comes Nexts?’

I ask you to keep this vignette in mind as you make decisions about next year’s class placement for your child. Children live in the ‘here and now’ and the ‘What Comes Nexts?’ are so far away. Enjoy the moment with your little ones. I think you’ll be happy and connected, too.

Please click here to read the entire issue of the TCS Times. TCS Times February 2020