Kids really are the tiniest teachers. We can truly learn a lot from them just by the way they see things.
When I was in school, I worked at the preschool at my church. I loved it but if I never have to hear the words ?circle time? again it might be too soon. But every day with them was a fun day because I could always count on them to provide me with a good laugh or a life lesson.
Character not color
One day the kids were all playing in the gym and one black boy came up to me and said, ?Teacher, those girls are white.?
He wasn?t tattling on them or accusing them of anything, it was just as if for the first time ever he noticed they were different from him. I nodded my head and acknowledged what he said, waiting for him to notice that I, too, am white. He didn?t. He just went back to playing basketball.
I think about that a lot because it was as if he had his own tiny revelation. He?d known those girls for over a year as they?d seen each other every day at preschool. But kids don?t see color, they just notice it. He went years without realizing they were different and he honestly didn?t care, just as long as they shared and were kind. That?s all that mattered to him. I think we can learn a lot from kids in situations like those. What?s on the inside counts and what?s on the outside just is.
On problem solving
Another time I was talking to a student about all the fun things she could do with the new baby brother her mom was expecting. We talked about going to the park, swimming and even watching some movies when she told me she wanted to put a puzzle in her mommy?s tummy so the baby wouldn?t get bored. Instead of trying to explain how that makes absolutely no sense, I tried to figure out how that made sense to her. She recognized that when she has nothing to do, she gets bored. The baby has nothing to do, so it must be bored, also. She saw a problem and tried to create a solution, even though it wasn?t possible. It was the thought that counted with that three-year-old.
The value of a big imagination
The same boy who taught me about character and color had an invisible friend named Romeo. He introduced Romeo to the class and I said hi back, but was then told Romeo couldn?t talk to me, he?d lost his voice. I accepted the fact and carried on. The next day I asked how Romeo was doing and he said, ?Not great. He?s sick.? So then, of course, Romeo made the prayer list and we had to pray that he would get better. I?ve personally never had an invisible friend, but it seems like a lot of work to be the sole spokesperson for them. Creating things, people and even ideas, then valuing them because they bring you joy, is what it?s all about to kids. I think we can all use some more imagination in our lives.
Always telling the truth
I arrived at work one day and one of the kids asked me how I got there. I told him I arrived on my helicopter, and that I parked it on the roof. He looked at me skeptically and said, ?Well, I didn?t hear it.? Busted.
So maybe lying to a kid while I was supposed to be a teacher and someone they could look to for the truth wasn?t the best idea, but I learned that kids are way smarter than we give them credit for. They?re only three-feet tall so they?re literally always looking up at things. They see things from a whole new perspective, mentally and physically.
One of my favorite stories is the time we talked about Moses parting the Red Sea for the Bible lesson. I explained everything to them and we talked it through. At the end, I decided to test how well they were listening so I asked them if they could tell me the name of the Bible hero we just talked about. ?Jim?? one girl said.
I think it?s obvious why this is one of my favorites. But also, it got me a little stressed that maybe there was a Jim in the Bible and I?d never noticed him. Update: there isn?t, technically. But the moral of this story is even if you don?t know, just try.