Most people who know me know that I want to be an elementary school teacher. I love working with children, and done so in a variety of ways including working in several classrooms, being an After School program assistant, and being a camp counselor (to name a few). As I continue to work with children and get the pleasure of watching them learn and grow, I myself have learned many life lessons from these special “little people.” Here are 3 of my favorites:
Do what makes you happy (regardless of what other people think).
At the after school program I work at, the kids are provided with a variety of activities to enjoy, and they are free to move from place to place whenever they feel like it. Often I will notice a group of friends playing at the toy station together, but then a few minutes later, for no seemingly apparent reason, one child may get up and skip happily on over to the arts and crafts table. It is usually not because there was a disagreement within the friend group, but often just because that one kid decided they wanted to be doing art—so they just did it. As young adults we spend so much time, whether through social media or just interacting with others in life, worrying about what other people will think of us. We don’t always do what we want because we are concerned about how that will seem to others. The more I’ve worked with children the more I’ve discovered that they do not care NEARLY as much about what people around them may think of them. From these children I have learned that life shouldn’t be lived for others and in concern of others. Do what you want to do, do what makes you feel comfortable, and do what makes you happy.
It is okay to feel your feelings.
I cannot begin to count how many crying spells, pouting sessions, and full-on meltdowns I’ve witnessed and worked to remedy. While screaming loudly and bursting into sobs is what many young children may do, I am not suggesting that we should all start having large meltdowns (in public, at least!). What I have learned from these moments of complete and utter upset is that it is okay to feel whatever emotions you are feeling, and to feel them strongly. If you are upset, it’s ok to cry it out. You will feel much better afterwards. On the other hand, I’ve witness so many children experiencing pure unadulterated joy. It’s also okay to jump up and down, skip, cheering, and dance around if you are really excited or happy. Now I try to feel all of my feelings, and not bottle them up.
Have huge aspirations.
Some of the best conversations I have had with children have been hearing about their goals for the future. I love hearing that when she grows up, a little girl wants to be a President who also saves the lives of animals. It is great to hear that a Pre-K student plans to name their first child “Flutter Rainbow.” Us adults laugh when we hear these dreams, because we feel they are unrealistic and naive. Well, I think we should all be a little bit more like these children. I don’t know about you, but I would rather live by life in pursuit of big dreams than to limit myself by thinking negatively. That little girl may not be end up being President and also a veterinarian, but if she keeps have big aspirations, I think she’ll probably become something great.