I spent this morning substituting for one of the teachers of the three-year-old class (which is comprised of three- and four-year-olds) at Sapphire’s preschool. Last night when the teacher called and asked me to sub, I said, “I can do that” without even thinking about it. Earlier in the year, I filled out the volunteer form, saying that I could sub just about anytime after the end of September. At the time I was happy to finally have time to spend at the preschool, either reading a book or helping out with a craft in Sapphire’s class, or filling in wherever I was needed.
But when I got off the phone, I started to wonder how it would go. Would Sapphire be OK that I was in the school the entire morning, but not with her? She didn’t seem to immediately take to the idea, so it was a concern. But she is also very used to me dropping her off at her classroom door and she is a pretty go-with-the-flow kind of kid — usually.
I also wondered how the kids in the threes (as the class is called) would take to me. Unlike the kiddos in Sapphire’s class, most of them do not know me at all. Some of them may have seen me at drop-off or pick-up, but most have probably not noticed.
But mostly I was very excited. Emerald went to a co-op preschool for three years so I served as the assistant teacher every few weeks back then. I have only been in the classroom in Sapphire’s school a few times in the two years and two months she’s been going there. And it was always as an extra adult, not as a substitute teacher. I was looking forward to helping out again and spending time with these little people.
So at 8:35ish this morning, Sapphire and I arrived at school. I had intended to keep her with me until it was time for school to start so that her teacher could get ready for the morning. [There was a sub in that class today, too.] But as soon as Sapphire’s teacher saw her, she invited her in and let her help set up for the day.
The director of the school met the three-year-old kids outside as they got out of their cars so that the teacher I was assisting could be in the classroom with me as the kids arrived. The concern was that some of them have stranger anxiety and since they didn’t know me, they might be afraid. As the kids came in, the teacher introduced me. Most of them were quite interested in this new person in the room (me). I quickly had several kids wanting my attention and wanting to show me things.
It wasn’t long before I had kids in my lap and other kids bringing me toys or showing me something they’d put together with magnets, etc. One little boy kept coming up behind me with a play teapot and pouring imaginary tea down my back. I laughed and joked that I would have to change my sweater, but I would wait until he was done. When the little sweetie got done pouring the “tea”, he came back with a short-handled broom and cleaned up the “tea” (remember it was pretend tea) that was all over my back. 🙂 Another one of my buddies for the day thought this looked like a lot of fun, so he grabbed a broom, too. I thanked both of them for being so thoughtful and for cleaning my sweater. 🙂
I had several requests for me to help put on dress-up clothes and even more to read books. The kids even listened to me when I asked them to do (or not do) something. During outside playtime, I had kids chasing me around with play cars, kids throwing leaves on me, and kids wanting to hold my hand on the way back inside.
I had been accepted and even welcomed. It was an amazingly fun morning.
As for Sapphire, a couple of times throughout the morning, I would hear a voice say “Mom” and I would look up and see Sapphire smiling at me through the doorway (the door opens in halves and the top half was opened, while the bottom was closed). And once she came to ask me a question her teacher had for me. At the end of the threes’ play period in the “big room” (which is shared by both classes at different times), Sapphire’s class came back from the park and walked right by us. She smiled big and came over to give me a big hug. Then she went happily into her classroom and I went back into the other classroom with the threes.
During outside time, I heard a knock on the nearby window and turned to see Sapphire and her best pal smiling and waving at me. This continued for about three more knocks, then they disappeared to go clean up.
At the end of the preschool day, Sapphire told me she was so glad I was at her school for the whole day. She enjoyed it even though she hardly got to interact with me at all. I think it was just knowing I was there that made her so happy. She was also thrilled to have been able to do some of the set-up tasks that the assistant teacher usually does in her own class. It made her feel big and helpful.
So it was a big productive, wonderful morning for Sapphire and her mom. How was your morning?