When I chose the word Commitment as my focus word for this year, I began to learn just how much that one word would have an impact on my life. I agreed to teach a roomful of 4 and 5 years olds: squirmy, blunt, runny noses, artistic, occasional accidents, moody, funny, hungry to learn, hungry for snacks… You realize, don’t you, this last sentence described the children and not me?!!
Several weeks ago I was busy making sure the portfolios were ready for our pre-K graduation. As I worked through the children’s papers, I realized this has been a year of learning for me, as well as for those little ones. You name a theme and I can give you a dozen projects for each week! I’ve spent hours researching online and digging into pre-K curriculum sites. I had made a commitment to help prepare all those children for Kindergarten! And commitment takes time.
I thought I was just learning things such as the life cycles of frogs and butterflies, animal track identification, names of dinosaurs, how to say “hurry up” in Hawaiian, science experiments for the five senses…and on and on I could go! Each portfolio contained a handprint, a photo, samples of handwriting, a self-portrait, a hand drawn family portrait, and samples of artwork. I made an interesting discovery as I reviewed their year’s papers. As I was teaching them, the Lord was teaching me. I teach in a privately owned, non-religious school, so because of school policy, I am not to talk about the Lord or the Bible. But everyday as I prepare and as I teach, I am His student and my heart listens. So here is my analogy of a year of learning two ways: in class with my students and in my heart with my Teacher.
Two questions were constantly on my mind.
- What were the boys and girls learning? What spiritual lessons was I learning?
- What all should go into a pre-K portfolio? And what goes into my year’s spiritual portfolio?
The children learned to write their names. Sometimes the letters were written backwards, but they still knew what they had written and could instantly recognize his or her name. The Lord calls us by name and we learn to recognize when He is speaking to us. As a four year old, I scratched my name into the paint of a new car. I will never forget my name…because I saw it for years as it gradually rusted! In Isaiah 43:1, we read “I have called you by name.” He knows me and in turn, I have etched His name on my heart.
Everyday in our circle time, we reviewed our letters. The children never tired of singing the alphabet song. They also learned the alphabet in sign language. Most of the children could laboriously sign their names. A co-teacher told me one child was having difficulty at naptime. The child decided to sing the alphabet song. With her eyes closed, she began to sing and her little hand began to sign the alphabet. She finished and with her eyes still closed, she said “good night” in a very quiet, sleepy voice. Our communication with the Lord is vital to our spiritual lives. Whether I am talking to Him audibly at home or silently in my classroom, I know He listens. When a child is having difficulty, in my heart I am asking for the Lord’s direction in ways I could help. I love to read Jeremiah 33:3 “Call on Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you have not imagined.”
At the beginning of the year, the boys and girls drew a portrait of their families. I enjoy seeing how they draw themselves in proportion to a parent. One little fellow drew a large square with two lines at the bottom. He proudly said, “Well, here’s my dad. See him? He is very big. I mean really big. I like how big he is!” I recognized many years ago that I am a part of the family of God. He is my Heavenly Father. Could I draw a picture of Him? No. But I recognize His attributes: He knows everything. Is there anything too hard for Him? No. He is present at all times. He is wise, holy, loving, righteous. In other words, He knows when I am having a difficult day. He is there. He sets the standard for me to know how to use wisdom and how to show my students love and fairness and mercy!
One young boy was having difficulty during circle time. He could not sit still. He would not listen. He scowled. He bothered the children next to him. I called him by name and asked what I could do to help him. I must admit, I expected him to scowl more. Instead he stood up, came over to me and said, “Teacher Ruth, could I just stand next to you and hold your hand?” Ok, my heart melted. I fought back the tears. I finished teaching with one hand around his and my other hand showing the object lesson. The young boy became calm and still. How many times have I not been able to sit still in obedience to the Lord? I have scowled. I have protested. How many times have I heard the Lord ask how He could help me? And always as I hold His hand and stay close, He calms my heart.
The children, all 29 of them, graduated. Of course, we do not say in a pre-K ceremony that they graduated with honors! But I will say it was an honor to teach them…and learn from them…and learn from the Lord at the same time!
By the way, “wiki wiki” means “hurry up” in Hawaiian!
This post is just one of several about my word for the year. You can find the others under Commitment in the category list to the right.
Read about my rusty name in this post. http://thememoryforever.com/i-left-my-mark/