Work Day

So I just finished my second preschool work day! At Peter Pan, all of the parents rotate through all of the stations (art room, library, block room, snack station, and outdoors—actually there are two outdoor stations, but they work together). You spend a month (four workdays) at one station before switching to the next. I’m starting out in the library, which is a pretty low-key area. It’s not just books, though. The physical library room also holds the guinea pig cage, the fishtank, a dollhouse, some stuffed animals, a light table, and some other toys and games. The kids tend to be drawn to this stuff early in the day, so on the two days that I’ve worked, I’ve had about five or six kids in my room for the first hour or so. They mostly play together; my job is to referee disputes, engage any kids who seem to be in the “odd man out” role (while respecting those who want to play alone), and, of course, read books on demand. It’s not really hard; the library is adjacent to the art room, so there’s another parent right there to help out. And the kids are pretty self-directed: honestly I just sort of do what they tell me, and then pick up afterwards once they’ve abandoned me.

I can’t really generalize much from two work days, but so far nobody’s been interested in books until after the first rush clears out. When the majority of the kids migrate outside, I’ve been left with one or two that are in the mood for some one-on-one attention, and then we can read the books. I like these quieter interactions, because it gives me a chance to get to know the kids a little better. For instance, on my first day I had a little girl named Pearl Eden hang out and play marbles with me for a bit, and now me and Pearl Eden are buddies. Today she told me “You’re the best teacher ever in the whole wide world!” So—despite the fact that I’m pretty sure she says that to all the moms—I have to admit that was awfully sweet to hear.

The kids do “free play” from 9 to 11, moving through the various stations as they see fit. Then we herd all the kids together for group story time. Not all the kids can sit still for group story time, so it’s my job to take any particularly restless ones back to the library so they don’t disrupt the main group. The first day nobody needed to break off; today I did have one child wander back to the library, and we read a book together, which was nice. After group story time we all go down to the park, and then my station is at the swings. Again, it’s not really a hard job. I push the kids on the swings. It’s not rocket science.

After park time the kids play outside (in the school’s own, fenced playground area) while the indoor-station parents go back in to clean up. I vacuum my area and do some extra picking up, and then all the parents have a little conference with Gail (the administrator) about how the day went, and then we all go home.

My impression so far is that the co-op pretty much has everything broken down to a level of granularity that keeps things whirring along smoothly during the day. I have a little laminated card to carry with me during my work day that breaks down all my responsibilities into very small, simple steps. Like: “9:45 issue potty reminders,” “10:55 move the kids into the block room for group story time,” or “12:15 collect discarded coffee mugs and make sure they get washed.” (Don’t you like the phrasing on that? “Make sure they get washed?” Like, if I stand around at the sink with the discarded coffee mugs, perhaps the coffee-mug-washing-fairy might descend and I can supervise her while she does the work? They’re not saying I have to wash the coffee mugs, they’re just saying that at the end of the day the coffee mugs need to get washed. Which is fair enough really.) The only part of the day I feel stressed-out, actually, are those times when there’s no kids in the library and I worry that I’m not doing something I ought to be. I know at those times I’m supposed to look around and see if any of the other parents are swamped and need help, but so far everyone’s had everything under control, and then I just kind of stand around feeling like dead weight.

Robin seems aware of me, on my teaching days, but he definitely doesn’t spend all of his time in the library. He comes in and out more frequently than some of the other kids, but he really likes to play outside. During group story time he does come and sit on my lap—so did Pearl Eden, today, so they had to share. Pearl Eden was very sweet and patted Robin gently while Gail read the story. He ignored her utterly. He doesn’t seem to have any particular friends yet, but the other kids say “hi” and “bye” to him, and he participates happily in group games.

So that’s what my work day’s like!

3 Responses to “Work Day”

  • Nina Says:

    That all sounds lovely. Glad things are going smoothly.

    NameWatch: I love “Pearl”! Over here on the east coast, I finally met both Zephyr and Emerson and was pleasantly surprised to find out that they’re both boys. Zephyr has a double-barreled last name, and the whole effect is splendid.

    • shannon Says:

      There’s also a little girl named Sonnet, which I quite like as an unusual-yet-fully-plausible name.

      • Nina Says:

        Oooh, me too.

        Another name I recently encountered that’s in the wacky-but-likeable category: Jubilee. X-Men associations aside. Although, second thought, why put them aside? It only makes it awesomer.

Leave a Reply