Home, finances, children, retirement, marriage… Suffice to say, it is just not easy being an adult. And, sadly, as we get older our worries and troubles continue to add up.
As adults, we carry a lot of burdens on our shoulders. We worry about how we will get food on the table, what our futures hold, politics, the weather — even sitting in rush-hour traffic, which can lead to meltdowns and elevated blood pressure. And while we think of these issues as primarily mental ones, they really can take a toll on our bodies, too.
It is easy, then, to see why many adults long to return to the simplicity of childhood. As children, our worries melted away with a good, home cooked meal. Political disputes amongst our classmates were subsided with a simple hug or apology. Money was simply something we used to buy ourselves candy or a comic book. That’s why spending time with children is often the best tonic for the everyday stresses of modern life. Teaching young students forces us to think and feel the way children do, bringing us back to a time when we had higher energy levels, bigger boosts of confidence, and a greater appreciation for our imaginations.
Learning how to embrace the simplicity of childhood allows us to leave our worries behind at the end of the day and to not sweat the small things like our young students naturally do. This may well be the key to being better teachers and adults. Here is where we recommend starting:
Focusing on the “Little Things”
In our consumerist culture, we often long for “the next big thing.” Our instinct is to want the latest and greatest trends, especially when it comes to classroom tools and technology. And certainly, integrating technology into our classrooms can aid teaching greatly. But how do we, as adults, handle a situation like working at a school that cannot afford new laptops?
The truth is, as frustrating as it can be to work with outdated technology, a lack of technology has never stopped students from learning. Children appreciate creative, engaging, nurturing approaches. A teacher who can make math problems or characters in a book come to life is more valuable than any technological wonder ever could be. As we get bogged down with cell phones and YouTube videos, it’s important to remember that the ability to create and learn from the little things around us is a truly powerful skill in education. Bringing simplicity back into the classroom can create a whole new world of possibilities for our students.
Leaving Our Troubles Behind
When we’re stressed out, we often carry our troubles around from one place to the next, seemingly unable to unburden ourselves. Elementary students, on the other hand, seemingly can go from troubled heartbreak to instant joy in a second flat! Take the child who wants to go first on the slide but is cut in line by another classmate: he might cry or yell or tattle about getting cheated, but in a matter of moments (and with a little guidance), he can quickly be back to taking turns or sharing with the same classmate.
We adults should take our own advice and see life through our student’s eyes. By letting go of our anger or frustration the way our students do, we can move on from our troubles quickly. This opens us up to new experiences that can only come our way when we are no longer burdened.
Tapping Into Our Imaginations
Having a healthy imagination is the absolute hallmark of childhood. Transforming a box in to a spaceship, pretending that a toy kitchen is a 4 star restaurant, or finding old clothing to play dress up are some of the most important experiences children can have as they grow. Sadly, as we grow older, we become more self-conscious and lose that precious ability to picture and dream ourselves into entire new universes and worlds. We end up encouraging each other to stick to reality and focus on the here and now. Being realistic becomes a characteristic we applaud and encourage.
Instead, we should listen to our “inner child” and encourage outside-the-box thinking skills in ourselves. By keeping in touch with that sense of wonderment, we might find ourselves feeling more creative and stress-free. Letting our students inspire us to occasionally move from our realities to their dreamscapes can be quite transformative and enlightening!
Bringing Out the Inner Child
Remembering how to keep in touch with our inner child can be a challenge. However, by learning from the examples of our students, we can begin to once again harness the ability to use our imaginations, unburden our troubles, and appreciate the world around us. Ultimately, bringing out the inner child is a great way to become a better teacher — and person!