This past Wednesday, after leading them in several songs about days of the week, the weather, and Alice the camel, my co-teachers and I shook the hands of 20 preschoolers and pronounced them ready for Kindergarten! At the end of the graduation ceremony, we all sang the song we sing at the end of every preschool session:
For Grace Preschool is over,
And we are going home.
Be always kind and good.
Be always kind and good.
When my daughters sang this song at the end of their preschool graduations, I couldn’t help but cry. A new phase of their lives was beginning, and while I was happy that they were growing up, a part of me was sad that their preschool years were over. They were going to full day Kindergarten in the fall, and I was going to miss them! How was I going to fill my days while my little girls were at school?
The answer, as you know, was teaching at the same preschool they had attended. Teaching preschool is very different from teaching 2nd grade, as I did for thirteen years before Lily was born. I have found a passion for early childhood education that I didn’t know I possessed. I always used to say I didn’t want to teach children younger than second graders. Now I teach three and four year olds. While it can be challenging (my aunt told me teaching three year olds is like herding cats), it is also rewarding.
A couple of my blogging friends have written about their little ones graduating from preschool, and after I read Tamara’s post about her little one, I wrote this comment: I’m expecting lots of tears from parents tonight at our preschool graduation! I might even tear up, and I’m just their teacher. I’ve taught most of the kids for two years, and I wish I could follow them to Kindergarten! Most of the them are going to the same school as my kids, so I will get to see them every once in a while. That makes me happy.
Tamara, who has a very big, soft and squishy heart, replied back: I can’t imagine being a teacher – seeing kids come and go, but getting close with a whole new class every fall. Ah, this cycle. It was hard for me as a kid. It’s a lot harder for me as a parent.
It is hard. This year, I taught the same group of kids five days a week. Over the past two years, I’ve seen them grow taller, learn how to share, and taught them how to write their names. I’ve seen them learn amazing skills on their own through exploratory play, seen their imaginations flourish, and made them laugh by singing silly songs. It’s hard to say goodbye.
It’s time, however. They are ready. Every single one of my students is Kindergarten ready. I am so proud of them, and am happy to see them fly away from their preschool home. Next fall, the cycle will start all over again, and it’s one of the things I love about my job. The fresh, new faces, the different personalities, and a chance to teach again.
This week, I volunteered at my daughters’ school for Field Day. A second grader said hello to me and I hardly recognized her. She was so tall and her baby face was gone. It’s been three years since I had her in my class, and it was so fun to see her again. I saw several other former students that day. We hula hooped together and played “Mr. Fox” and then I sent them on to the next activity. They had been happy to see me, but they were even more excited about moving on; about graduating to the next station.
They ran so fast they just about flew.
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