Yesterday morning as I was washing the hands and faces of the little ones who had finished their breakfasts my daughter leapt from her chair and shrieked, “Spider!”
I of course sprang into action to remove the eight legged invader from the table because spiders are a source of much fear for my eldest child … but the little arachnid was still, it’s legs curled up so it looked like a ball rather than a creature. I began to sweep him on to a piece of paper to toss into the trash.
“It’s okay, he’s not a live spider. He must have died,” I said offhandedly as I cast a glance at my daughter. The other kids had moved on to trains and cars and racing round the circle of the living room.
“Maybe he fell against the window and died,” she said matter-of-fact, chewing on the hem of her sleeve.
I whisked the little spider-body to the trash for a less than ceremonious “funeral”. When I looked at my little girl again her eyes were welling up with tears.
“I kind of feel bad for the spider,” she said, her voice cracking as I walked towards her and knelt beside her. Her entire five year old self fell into my arms and she cried for the little spider who died on our kitchen table.
Children have such big hearts, filled with empathy for even the smallest creatures on this planet.
Yesterday I learned to slow down as I helped my child find her way through her sadness. Grief is a hard thing to cope with, even when that sorrow is for the lost life of a little spider; children’s feelings are just as valid as our adult emotions.
Every moment I spend in the profession of early learning and care I am growing as an educator. I learn as much every day from the children that I work with as they learn from me and I’m lucky to have such kind little teachers.
Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day is set aside to acknowledge the huge difference ECEs make in the lives of families as well as the impact they have within the broader community.
Early Childhood Educators are experts in child development. We are passionate professionals that assess children’s needs and design curriculum to scaffold and support children’s individual stages of development and growth. We strive to cultivate healthy and trusting relationships with children and their families so that learning can blossom.
Everyday Early Childhood Educators are committed to providing exceptional learning opportunities for young children in environments that are caring and welcoming. We build bridges with families between school and home that allow us to work collaboratively to support each unique child.
Yet our work is still undervalued in society; we are seen as babysitters and those of us that work in the school system are often just thought of as assistants rather than teaching partners. This has to change! Research has demonstrated time and time again the importance of quality early learning and care programs and it is time that we begin to acknowledge the value of the educators who are committed to creating these high quality learning environments for children.
If you have an Early Childhood Educator in your life let them know how important they are today and everyday.
A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. – Henry Adams
I’ve been called crunchy a time or two as a parent and I’m also a bit “granola” in my practice as an early childhood educator.
Now I can hear a few of you asking, “What does crunchy even mean?”
Well, Wiktionary defines crunchy as “Having sensibilities of a counter-culture nature lover or hippie; derived from the concept of crunchy granola.”
Even though some people use the term crunchy with a sigh and an eyeroll, I’ve fully embraced my crunchy/granola/neo-hippy leanings. I think the kids in my class really benefit from the gentle approach I use as well as the close connection we share with nature.
Think you might be a crunchy childcare provider? I’ve compiled this handy list of signs below just for fun. Thanks for the help with it Lesley!
- Wearing a baby is your favorite fashion accessory, in fact you occasionally wear more than one!
- There is a jar of coconut oil in your medication box.
- You regularly meditate with 3 year olds.
- Kale chips are a treat.
- When you clean the guts out of a squash you save some of the seeds to grow in the spring.
- You’ve made your own yogurt for snack.
- You’ve also made your own granola and bread, often with the help of small people.
- Many of your students’ favorite toys are recycled materials or thrift store rescues.
- You’ve taken the children on foraging adventures.
- You’re not a farmer but you have (or want) backyard/play yard chickens.
- Single use plastics make you cringe so you make your own beeswax wraps for food.
- You have an essential oil for every occasion and know how to use them safely.
- You can sew or crochet just about any curriculum material.
What are some ways that you embrace your crunchy side in your program?
Dear Dr. Blasey Ford,
I want to thank you for standing up, for telling your account of your assault at the hands of Judge Kavanaugh even though it was painful and terrifying. Your bravery amazes me. I want you to know that I stand with you and that I believe you.
And I want to make you a promise.
You see, I am an educator. I work with brilliant, goofy and cheeky little people that fill my heart with hope for the positive ways this world can change and grow.
I promise you that I will teach them all that their bodies are their own.
I will teach them that when they say “no” it matters, and when they hear “no” they must stop.
I will model respect and kindness in my interactions with them and our broader community so that they learn to be respectful and kind.
I will show them the injustices of the world in developmentally appropriate ways and teach them that even little people can have a big impact when they stand up and make the choice to make things better.
Natasha Kocher, RECE
The days are growing shorter and though the leaves have just begun to show their autumn colors winter is already on my mind. As the weather begins to cool I find myself bringing more natural materials inside, preparing for the days when the cold is too much for the little ones to bear.
I gather acorns and pinecones to adorn the shelves of my classroom like treasures for little hands to discover, sticks and pressed flowers, and dried goldenrod are scattered about like precious jewels for the children to create and imagine with.
I love to include nature in my program, especially in the months when the weather can be too harsh for our adventures outdoors. Beeswax is my favorite natural material to explore with my little friends on cold dull days when we are stranded inside; the smell of honey reminds us of the plump bumblebees we observed flitting from flower to flower in their sweet, clumsy way in the warm months of summer. We’ve made candles and polish for our toys from beeswax but I just recently discovered a recipe for moldable beeswax and I think the children will absolutely love it.
Moldable beeswax is a learning tool often used in Waldorf programs; it is an amazing material that allows children to practice fine motor, creative representation, and planning skills. Play with moldable beeswax requires patience as well because it must be warmed in the children’s hands before it is malleable enough to use.
Moldable Beeswax Recipe
1 pound of beeswax
5 tbsp coconut oil
4 tsp lanolin
Microwave safe bowl
Spoon for stirring
Muffin tin & liners
Melt the beeswax in a crock pot (or microwave safe bowl in the microwave), then mix in the coconut oil and lanolin. Take a small amount out to test (carefully as it will be hot); If your wax mixture is a bit too crumbly add more oil, if it is too sticky add a bit more wax.
When you’re happy with the way it feels pour your wax mixture into a lined muffin tin and allow to cool.
To make moldable beeswax children nust measure, observe and combine materials to create something new; it’s a fantastic, organic way to explore math and science. There are so many opportunities for learning in such a simple activity.