I see him rolling down the green, grassy hill, the sunlight glowing in his blond curls. As soon as he stops moving, UP he pops, a little powerhouse trundling back up the hill. He plops down and rolls down the hill again. And again. And again. Among all the school aged kids, he looks so young and small. Like the baby he is.
Just that morning, I had been trying to teach him THE RULES. He, along with the other 15 children in my class, is just three years old. Sitting on the rug to listen to fingerplays and stories are not their stong suits. Sharing with other children–definitely a skill that needs to be practiced. Standing in line to go wash hands for snack time? Not intuitive to three year olds.
This is my first year teaching threes, and I have been pulling out every trick in my book. I have been using puppets to distract crying, SCREAMING kids from wanting their mommies. I have been patiently showing threes how to share. I have been telling them NOT to grab toys out of the other children’s hands. I have been picking up kids to put them back in their spot on the rug again and again, Super Nanny style. I have been holding hands and letting children sit on my lap.
All these rules, like PLAY NICE and SHARE and LISTEN and LINE UP must be taught. These three year olds are just at the beginning of their school life, where it will be important for them to follow the rules. Yet among all these rules we do play for much of the morning, sing, dance and give the kids new, fun experiences.
As I lay in bed last night, thinking about the little boy rolling down the hill, I thought that is right where he SHOULD be–rolling down a grassy hill in the sunshine, again and again.