By: Monica Wiedel-Lubinski, Executive Director of ERAFANS
For those of us working with young children, we know how rewarding the work is. We live to hear their laughter. We revel in those muddy-faced days. Their little messy hands and smiles melt our hearts instantly. There is so much magic and innocence and pure intention in the souls of those sweet little people. Combined with the awe and wonder of nature, we can’t help but have amazing experiences together. Our job is to savor those moments and keep facilitating new ones, chock full of tiny personal victories and sloppy hugs.
But let’s be honest about the whole picture. There are difficult days. Really, really tough days. Days when you don’t want to hear another complaint from a parent about the snack or hear them ask “are you really going to take them outside today?”. Days when it seems like everyone is oozing and coughing or crying. Sometimes we ask ourselves ‘did I handle that right? Did they actually learn anything today’?
Dear educators, remember: YES. Even on those difficult days when everyone seems unhappy and chaos feels like it’s taken hold – YES, they are still learning important lessons from us.
We all know that life isn’t perfect and pleasant all the time. Part of our role is to help children cope with the lumps and bumps along the path. Our kindness and compassion towards a sad child, positive attitude when things don’t go as planned, and ability to re-frame a challenging situation is comforting to young children. This reminds them that no matter what, we can make the best of any situation and take action to make it better. If it means taking a long, deep breath, stepping away to regroup for a moment, or bursting out with a joke or song to lighten the mood, then so be it. We model important social and emotional skills for young children, especially on those tough days. We reassure them that we can get through challenges and there are lots of positive ways to do it!
So we shouldn’t get discouraged. We must savor this fleeting time with the little ones. During this crazy holiday season, let’s remember to be kind and forgiving of ourselves and those around us, especially our little friends, families and co-workers. The happy moments and the tough ones alike are the stuff of life. This is the real making of compassionate, loving people. We are doing it, one mitten-handed day at a time.
We can’t wait to gather as a group! Stay tuned for updates about ERAFANS and all of the fantastic professional development we have in store! Our first Natural Wonder Summit will take place at the New Canaan Nature Center in CT on April 1, 2017. We are also coordinating several regional Outdoor Learning Retreats, one of which will be held at the Carroll Community College in MD on Saturday, August 26, 2017. Complete our contact form and we will let you know the minute our registration goes live!