Our drama portion of the curriculum is developing at an interesting pace. The children are creating a stage complete with theatre curtains. The curtains are made of green vinyl and decorated in crayon. The name of our theatre group is written in a childish scrawl upon the curtain. By unanimous vote, the theatre group was christened as the boys and girls theatre. When observed by an adult’s perception, our theatre may appear to be a ramshackle corner in the class. To the children, it is a work of art! The child’s perception and input is of utmost importance. The children have made microphones from toilet paper rolls covered in foil paper. The microphone speaker is a painted eggshell carton.

The kids may appear to be merely painting, singing, and pretending. They are actually learning to think outside the box. Stretching their imaginations and experiencing safe challenges builds positive self efficacy. The children learn that their input matters. Imaginary play creates positive interactions with friends. It gives children an outlet to practice new skills.  One child in my class room is mentally ill. This little girl was sullen and tearful at the beginning of the year. I used to physically tear her five-year old frame off her mothers leg when it was time for mom to depart. Twenty minutes would be spent observing a teary eyed little girl sulking in a corner of the room. She spoke to no one, and never socialized. Her only place of solace was the art center.

As I have attempted to teach this child dance moves she has started to join the group. After observing her watching the other children sing and dance she finally joined in today. She grabbed her hand-made microphone. I heard the most beautiful sound ever. This child stood in front of me and belted out a song. It was as loud as her lungs would allow. I was shocked. She sang in tune, and was synchronized. My heart was full of joy for her. She stopped singing for a moment. I told the child that I was proud of her. I spoke of my pride for her singing with the others. The child looked at me. The following statement will live in the archives of my memory for years to come.

The child said, “Miss Mari, I love to sing in your class. I feel safe in here” That was like music to my ears. No teacher could ask for a more memorable moment in the class room. To steal a phrase from the master card commercial,   the toilet paper rolls for microphones, cost four dollars. “The memories are priceless”. My goal is to create an environment where children have positive interactions, learn skills, learn the art of choice making, and last but not least develop positive self efficacy. To an adult, watching a child struggle makes us want to step in and assist the child. Imagine the lifelong confidence a child develops when succeeding in a safe environment. They learn to believe in themselves. They use that confidence to grow in the classroom, and out in the world. Educators can’t supply a child with a better gift. No money can buy a happy, healthy, child who becomes a happy and healthy adult.

Children can teach us more than we teach them occasionally – if we just step back long enough to reflect and listen to them:-0)

Mari N. M.Ed.