Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Kindergarten Hat

Something out there in the universe has decreed that I shall try on numerous unaccustomed hats recently. I’m being eased out of my full time mother role and forced to take a look at the big wide world outside. Not all that far outside really, no further than my children’s schools. I wasn’t proactive about any of these experiences, in fact I hung back, looking round to see if any one else would volunteer first. When they didn’t I took a deep breath and stepped forward to accept the profferred hat.

In the last week I’ve tried on School Photographer Hat, Numerology Hat and today Kindergarten Teacher Hat. Our teacher at the little Waldorf kindergarten here had to be away for a few days this week. It was a choice between no school, or me taking school.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. Maybe the kids would take one look at me and riot, realising that I wasn’t the genuine teacher article? Would I get in trouble with them for doing things ‘wrong’? In fact it all went fairly smoothly. They are so accustomed to the rhythm of their mornings that when it is time to tidy up after craft, drawing and free play, all it took was for one of them to start singing the ‘tidy gnome’ song and they all gradually joined in the tidying and in ten minutes the whole place looked spick and span. Now why doesn’t that work at home?

After an optional procession to the toilet it was Ring Time. The allotted task was practising Christmas carols for their end of term ‘play’. A few more rounds of some ring games ensued, then it was time to take snacks outside for a picnic. This is inspired on the teacher’s part, as it saves yet another tidy up of crumbs and spilt juice inside, and runs seamlessly into outside play time.
The girls spent at least three-quarters of an hour working hard to demolish a huge log, picking off great chunks of ‘gold’ with the trowels and observing the scurry of ants and beetles as their hiding place was revealed. A couple of the boys took over the watering from me and mostly managed to water the plants rather than each other. The slide proved irresistable in conjunction with the hose though!

I was sitting there thinking that this was a complete doddle, but then reflected that this was mostly due to the teacher’s hard work initially to get all the routines established. By the end I suddenly felt quite tired, not from any great physical or mental exertions but from the constant holding all the children in my consciousness, just being aware of them all the time. It requires a different sort of energy to be a kindergarten teacher, similar to that of a mother of young children, except that for the span of a morning without any other claims on your attention, you can be the perfect mother, patient and and gentle, using humour to deflect tantrums or squabbles. The only problem seems to be that by the time I got home I found that I had used up all my reserves of those qualities for the day, so the kids had short shrift thereafter.

I’ve got another two days of it, which I will enjoy, but I don’t think I’d want to take it on long term. The pace and feel of it is the same as the mother space that I’m just emerging from, trying to get my brain back up to speed in the adult world. Kindergarten would be lulling me back into dream time again. I might wake up to find a hundred years had passed by!


  1. Wow. Good and brave you. Love the photos. Little girls in dresses and sunhats remind me of, well, my whole life.

  2. Very cool! The most successful times I had as a mother were when I managed those routines. Love routines. Now, If I'd just create one for myself and follow it now ... what would happen?


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