This year, the YMCA Before and After Care Program is in our classroom. This was true for us in the 2019-2020 school year. Most educators and administrators that know me, realize that I love to get to school early in the morning. I almost always arrive before 7:00. Quiet opportunities to get the classroom organized and to prepare for the day are moments that I look forward to, so I was initially concerned about having the YMCA in our room, as what would I do when I got to school?! As I blogged about back in December 2019, I came to realize how wonderful this connection was, and my teaching partner, Paula, and I actually asked for the Before and After Care Program to stay in our classroom for the rest of the school year. Once again, I'm finding joyful moments thanks to the YMCA.
Paula and I have a lot of students in the Before and After Care Program. The other day, one child came for the first time, and you could tell that she was reluctant to stay. I was cleaning out our outdoor Rubbermaid bin, and I started to chat with her and her mom. I asked the child if she wanted to help me get things ready, and she did. Mom wondered if I wanted her daughter to play somewhere else, but I said that this wasn't a problem at all. This child was so excited to hand me the water bottles to fill up for outside. When I then went to open things up on the computer, I told the child that I would move to the table near the carpet. She joined another child to play with the dolls on the carpet, and I got the links open for the day. There was a child in another class who was really sad. He was crying over on our back bench. The YMCA staff continued to try to comfort him, but the transition between home and school was hard. When one of the staff members called, "last call for snack," I asked the child from my class if she wanted to have a snack. She did. I then said, "I wonder if [Name] would too. Let's ask." I went over to him and asked if he wanted to join us, explaining that I would tell his teacher that he was sad. It turns out that the child did want a snack. So the two of them sat down to enjoy a muffin, while I drank my cold coffee. :)
The next day, these children came back to the Before Care Program. The child from our class really wanted to help fill the water bottles. Instead of handing them to me, she actually shared the filling responsibilities with me. Then when the child from the other class came, we sat down for snack together. They ate cereal, and I drank my cold coffee. :) As they ate though, we all chatted about pets, favourite activities, and school. A child from another class was at the snack table as well, and she joined in on the conversation. The kids even began to talk to each other. Yes, I'm sure that I could find expectations that connected with some of our conversation points, but this talking wasn't about that. It was just a wonderful, joyful time to connect and get to know the kids ... from our class and from other classes. I didn't have to worry about documenting the experiences, reflecting on the learning, or balancing the needs of other students. I could just enjoy the time together. I know that I started Friday with a smile on my face, and during the first week of kindergarten, as students are still adjusting to school and new routines, I will take the extra smiles. Self-Reg starts with connections, and maybe we all need these little moments to form some deeper connections later. What are some of your small moment connections, and what might the value of them be? I could probably choose to come a little later to school these days, but I think that I'd prefer the snack table talking time instead.