During my Early Childhood teaching years, there were many moments enacted and communicated by young children that I want to remember forever. None of these moments was sweeter and more sincere than during Work Time with Mr. Andy. It was the time when we truly believed children needed to be provided opportunities to use their own language to create their own experiences, facilitated expertly by adults. Creative thinking and problem solving were heralded as what children needed to become successful adults, backed by longitudinal research studies. Mr. Andy demonstrated significant visual disability, as illustrated by extremely thick glasses, which he covered on a daily basis with another pair of glasses minus the lenses. On this particular day, Mr. Andy invited Mrs. Grover to accompany him to the top of the loft. He dressed himself in a suit three times his size and found the largest book he could, lumbering carefully one step at a time to the top of the loft. He called two other friends to join him as he carefully climbed the steps without stepping on the hem of his suit. Once we all reached the top step, he told the three of us “Sit down right here, right here, right here”. Mr. Andy then proceeded to pass out a book to each of us and told us to sing. He then leaned as far over the top of the loft railing as he could without toppling over, holding the open book out before him, as he spouted “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” to all of the little people below in the classroom. He then announced “And now it’s time for Ms. Grover to sing “Praise Me”. Did I sing “Praise Me” even though I have never been a singer? Of course, and I’ve never sung better! You’ve never seen a wider, more glorious smile on a child’s face. I will never know if Mr. Andy became a Preacher, but it was pure joy to watch him practice that role as a child: pure delight at the event of one’s own creation.
Teacher Tip: Promote meaningful play in young children; allow them to create events their way with adult facilitation–creating play schemes and solving problems through trial and error. These abilities will last forever!