I wanna go back to preschool!

Having worked at several preschools teaching piano lessons, I feel like I have come to see at least a few of the different types. There are your average “daycare” preschools, which are usually cheap and full of 20-somethings who are constantly yelling at the kids. Then there are “discovery” preschools, which are actually a more glorified version of the daycare preschools, only with more expensive toys and better paid teachers. Lest you think I’m joking, the one of these that I taught at had a “Hollywood” room with costumes and pretend video cameras, a 50’s “diner” that they ate snack and lunch at, a “Theater” room with a big screen tv, and an indoor jungle gym. Then there are the Montessori preschools, which are very expensive and are only focused on discovering the child’s unique strengths and abilities.

St. Peter’s Preschool program, I’ve found, is not like any of the above. It is not uncommon to see all 6 of them, trailing like little ducklings after Miss Annie, who used to be the secretary for the school but switched to being their teacher when the school couldn’t find the right person. Today, Annie was taking them all into the chapel to “sing songs to Jesus”, a fact which they were wildly excited about. Yesterday, they made bead jewelry together at craft time. The day before, Annie taught them how to make cookie dough. It was strangely fascinating to watch, and I felt as though I too was being drawn towards them as they crowded around the bowl, learning to crack eggs and measure sugar. I’ve also seen Annie play number and letter games using hopscotch, teach them how to “be fairies”, and play Charlotte Church for them as they’re napping. The school also has a bunch of tiny harps on which they have taught all the kids to play “Jesus Loves Me” in unison. As far as motor skills, Annie helped them learn both dexterity and service by having them shine Mr. Smith’s silver Civil War toy cannon. For recess, they catch bugs in little cases so that they can look at them up close.

Now, some of the more academically rigorous preschools could look down upon this and critique it, but perhaps its because they have missed the point entirely. School should be for teaching you to be a whole soul, healthy and balanced. So often, kids are infused early on with the idea that life is intended for the sole purpose of getting you to your next destination. Preschool is about preparing you for Kindergarten, grade school is about teaching skills for middle school, middle school about making sure you actually survive high school, high school for getting into a good college, and college for getting you a good job. What they end up passing on is a sense that life should revolve around accomplishment and evaluation. They train the actions without ever reaching the heart and teaching about the essence of life.

When and where are we supposed to learn about life, in all it’s innocence and simplicity? It’s easy to learn your ABC’s, but once you forget how to find joy in life, you almost never regain the ability. Done well, preschool can be the most valuable and formative part of one’s education, because it can either make or break your view of the world.

Perhaps we should all go back to preschool and never leave.

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  • Tess

    “When are we supposed to learn about life?” Though I don’t have the answer to this I believe it should be before you return from college to live at your parents house without much motivation to do what you’ve said you were planning on doing for the last 10 years, crushing your parents hopes and dreams in this brilliant declaration, and forcing you to discover what it is that you are passionate about in this life other than getting to its next stage all the while dodging grilling questions from your parents and brother about your future “plans”….or something like that.