“Falling Behind”

There is so much talk lately about our children falling behind. School looks different, teachers are stretched, and the year has been full of stops and starts. With so much time lost, how could our kids possibly be where they need to be? How could they have learned what they need to know to move on to Kindergarten, 2nd grade, and beyond? How could they actually be where they need to be when everything looks different, when everything has changed, and when the way things used to be feels like a lifetime ago.

Except maybe they are.

Maybe they are exactly where they need to be.

W’s preschool teacher is incredible in so many ways, but the area where her impact is especially significant is in the lessons she teaches these 4 and 5 year olds about perseverance, believing in themselves, and caring for others. Each morning they begin with affirmations. They speak intentionally about how special they are. They affirm that they are strong, and smart, and wonderful. They learn to speak kindly to themselves and about themselves so that they may do the same for others. In fact, W often talks about being “the best me that I can be” a concept taken straight from his preschool classroom.

She teaches them words like perseverance and what that looks like in their little lives. Maybe it’s persevering while putting on shoes. Maybe it’s working tenaciously on letter writing. Whatever it is, the lesson is the same. Try hard and try again. At 5 years old. What a gift. More than anything her approach to education is founded upon the idea that it’s not just about the letters and the numbers, although she magically weaves a multitude of objectives into each lesson. It’s about being kind to yourself and to others. It’s about being a good person. It’s about working hard and believing that you can achieve your goal. It’s about being the best me. No matter how young or how old. That’s the lesson. That’s what will keep our kids from “falling behind.”

Sometimes I worry that W should be writing better letters or drawing with more detail. As a teacher, I truly can’t help it. Then I remember the lessons from preschool and I watch the child that he is becoming thanks to a hero of a teacher. I realize then that he too is right where he needs to be.

Find the joy,


Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at http://smallhandsbigsteps.com/contact/ for more information or to schedule a consultation.