How Being a Preschool Teacher Prepared Me For Motherhood
If you know me, you probably know that I used to be a preschool teacher. I have always wanted to be a mom, so when I started thinking about what career I wanted to have, preschool teaching popped into my head.
I was thinking the other day (while dealing with one of Izzy’s many tantrums… my girl is DRAMATIC) about how I learned so many parenting tips and tricks while teaching. And I thought that there may be a mom (or dad, I don’t judge) out there who would love to get a new perspective on parenting. And maybe even pick up a thing or two from reading this post!
So right after I graduated high school, I began taking courses in Child Development. Keep in mind, I began taking them the summer right after my senior year so I didn’t have a break from school whatsoever. I had always been younger than a lot of the students in my class, so when I graduated I was 17 (going to turn 18 in September). And that timing ended up being perfect because not only did I have enough units at the end of the summer to start applying to preschools, but I had also just turned 18 so I was finally able to work in a school!
On top of having the Child Development units I needed (12 were required but I did go on to take more classes), I also needed to get CPR and First Aid Certified. Oh, and I had to be background checked. Which is insane that you have to have all of these certifications to work with children, but anyone can be a parent - but don’t get me started on that. I’ll save that for another day!
Finding a job was actually pretty easy, and I began my first ever year as a preschool teaching assistant. But the school Director actually taught the class and she had to be in her office for a good portion of the day. So I like to say that I was the co-teacher of the classroom. I eventually got different jobs and ended up having my own classroom where I was the only teacher.
I loved having the freedom of having my own classroom. My own curriculum, I chose the flow of the room, and the class schedule. Which are all things that I have unintentionally incorporated into my parenting style.
• I don’t necessarily implement curriculum for Izzy. But I always choose specific activities to engage her. Sometimes I lay out toys on a table, or put specific toys out to encourage her to play with.
• I also didn’t originally try to have a “flow” in Izzy’s playroom, but over time I have made sure to implement a flow into her playroom. And I make sure to change up the room every once in a while so she stays interested in it.
Something I intentionally incorporate into my parenting style is the way I handle my daughter, and the way I teach her.
• I specifically talk to her in ways that are encouraging and respectful.
• I make sure to explain things to her when I need to do something: when I am changing her diaper, her outfits, cleaning up, I tell her what I am doing and why.
• I give her responsibilities because she takes pride in what she accomplishes. For example, she eats with glass plates and uses normal utensils. When she is done she either hands me the plate and her utensils, or she places them in the sink for me. Children want to learn, and they crave responsibility!
Something that being a teacher taught me is the ability to juggle multiple things at once. I can clean or cook but still hear EVERYTHING Izzy is up to. And I can listen to an audiobook while having a conversation with Izzy. I believe all parents eventually learn this skill, but I was definitely happy to go into motherhood with this skill already under my belt!
The next big thing I learned from teaching, was how essential routines are for children. Children crave routine. They can’t tell time by looking at the clock, so remember that consistency is key. And it actually helps them behave better!
And I do realize I am talking about motherhood and teaching in a super positive light right now. But don’t get it twisted. Motherhood and teaching are HARD. I have learned that THINGS DON’T ALWAYS GO ACCORDING TO PLAN. That you CANNOT DO IT ALL. And BREAKS ARE VITAL if you want to survive teaching and motherhood. Notice all of these sayings are in all caps because they are THAT important. Just as important as everything else you take from this post.
To go along with how important breaks are, I would like to speak on controlling emotions.
There will be times when you can’t get a break. That you will have to do it alone. And in those moments you have to learn how to control your emotions (on the outside at least) and REALLY practice patience. It is so important to have tools to help you calm down.
• A bible verse or saying you repeat.
• Taking a deep breath.
• Walking away from the situation.
The final thing I want to tell you that I learned is that every child is different. There is no right way to parent (even though there is definitely a wrong way). You just need to parent according to your parenting style and find the best way to parent that gets your child to respond in an appropriate way.
Going along with this, remember that you should not judge other parents. You don’t know their situation or their child, and they are most likely just trying their best. So make sure to give other parents a break!
Sorry that this blog post was a little all over the place, I had so much to say and I tried not to go into too much detail because I would be typing this for hours! I will definitely go more in-depth on some of these topics, though, to help out my parents who may need a little more encouragement or advice!