Prior to the summer of my senior year, June 2017 to be exact, I was not a fan of small children. Yet, I still applied for a job to work at a local elementary school in their after-school daycare program. I had a friend who worked there and she said that it was a decent job with the added bonus that they were not open on weekends. That meant having my weekends free! I thought to myself, “Hey! It can’t be that bad… I might not particularly like children but three hours after school every day won’t hurt me.”
So, I took the job and I am forever thankful that I did.
I started out working with the first- and second-grade group, my first day being a little bit too much for me with all of the children running amuck. This all changed once I got to know the children that I was working with. I started to actually enjoy going to work every day and I looked forward to hearing about my kids’ days.
My experience working with children has taught me several things:
1.) Kids have absolutely NO filter.
Over winter break I was working with a group of kindergarteners on an art project. One kid asked me if I wanted to hear a story. Obviously, I said yes. This child then proceeded to tell me a story, in detail, about how once they were sleep walking and they peed all over their laundry. I was not expecting that and just nodded and thanked them for sharing their rather… different story. It’s safe to say that through this experience I have learned that a.) children will say whatever they are thinking and that b.) I should ask what the story is about before agreeing to hear it.
2.) Kids are brutally honest.
Going along with kids having NO filter is the fact that they are brutally honest. There have been several times where I asked the kids questions and they have not held back with their opinions. For example, one day I was talking with a student and I mentioned that I was going to get a haircut. The first thing out of their mouth was, “You’ll look ugly if you cut your hair.” I was so caught off guard all I could do was laugh and thank them for their opinion.
3.) You will have so many new best friends under the age of 10.
The most heartwarming moments were when the children would tell me I was their favorite “teacher.” I had many kids that only wanted to hang out with me (which sometimes was problematic…but for the most part endearing). Everyone knew which kids favored which teacher. My favorite thing was when I would walk into work and there would be five or six of them waiting at the door asking me to play kitchen or chutes and ladders.
4.) You’ll get to embrace your inner 5-year-old every day.
Yes, I did have to be the mature one most of the time. But I did really get to embrace my inner child while I was at work. How many 19-year-olds answer that yes, they get paid to play Just Dance and go play tag outside… not many.
5.) Positivity is key.
The most important thing I learned from my days with the kids was that every situation has the potential to be a positive one. Having to be the role model and mediator for all of the kids I was in charge of, I quickly learned that positivity is key. I realized that if I was looking at things with a positive outlook, the kids would do the same. This made my job a lot easier and their days a lot better. This is something that has carried over into my daily life and improved it. Now when I am faced with a challenge, I try to face it with positivity.
All of these things that I have learned through working with children have made both my job and my everyday life more enjoyable. I have learned that sometimes you just have to be brutally honest with people, that you have to take time to have fun and that being positive will make a world of difference.