Nursery teachers: The unsung heroes

Many people easily find heroes in fallen soldiers or famous persons like mother Teresa but often forget the small time champions met along the way.

Many people easily find heroes in fallen soldiers or famous persons like mother Teresa but often forget the small time champions met along the way.

Go ahead and shower praise to President Barrack Obama for rewriting history and with equal measure, I will sing my tribute to one of my champions – my kindergarten teacher.

 

I will never forget my first day at school – away from home, from parents, from familiar faces and places, away from the world to a whole new beginning. There she was, Mrs. Omoto. With an assuring smile, she reached out with her warm hug and, at once, I had met a new friend.

 

Like Mrs. Omoto, a nursery teacher is a fundamental person in a child’s life yet most of their good deeds usually go unnoticed. They are everything to a child: a mother/father, a friend, a school mate, a teacher, a nurse… pretty much everything. He/she is not only a caregiver, educator and a primary emotional resource for the young children in her care but also provides for a child’s basic needs by feeding, cleaning and protecting the well-being of the child. Who can do such selfless acts almost freely, everyday?

 

We must agree that it takes real stamina and God-sent patience to deal with children. A nursery teacher must constantly mediate and settle disputes between children and deal with any problems they may have, be they social, emotional or mental. For a child, successful preschool experience is very much dependent on how the teacher handles all the needs. If they have been treated and taught well, they will always be inclined to go back to school. It is the role and responsibility of a preschool teacher to instill a sense of comfort and lifelong love of learning in the child. This experience forever stays in the lives of children as well as the teacher. 

The role of preschool teacher is not just limited to teaching lessons. They are also expected to make the kids socialise and interact with each other. When children join school, they often go through separation anxiety. Their innocent mind is not really aware of what they will face, or how they should act. They find strangers all around. In such a scenario, preschool teachers become immensely significant. They try to understand the emotions and feelings of the kids and help children in overcoming their separation anxiety.

These teachers also go an extra mile to focus on each child individually. No two kids are alike so it’s important for preschool teachers to observe and analyse the strengths and weaknesses of each child separately. They devise strategies keeping in mind individual kid so that they grow properly. This truly takes an extra effort.

In a general classroom setting, a nursery teacher of pre-school level is expected to work with children younger than school age, usually between the ages of three and five. This teacher must engage the young children in activities that are not too challenging but still have educational merit, including finger painting, putting on short plays, singing songs, and reading to them. Even though a day of preschool is usually just half day, because most children at this age cannot attend school for an entire day, the work is overwhelming. 

While teaching preschool kids is a challenging job, it is also immensely satisfying. The fact that, preschool teachers are training the innocent children to become successful leaders of tomorrow is sufficient enough to describe the importance of this job. Whether it is at a daycare centre, preschool, kindergarten or elementary school, this work brings an inner satisfaction that ordinary words cannot even begin to explain. 

Surely, our nursery teachers do a commendable work. The more I embrace adulthood, the greater my gratitude for my kindergarten teacher. I wish she were alive today to see just how I turned out!

The writer is a lecturer at The Adventist University of Central Africa

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