Is there anything more rewarding in this life than teaching three-year-olds? Watching little eyes open in wonder? Seeing young minds flourish and blossom?
Yes, is the resounding answer to that question … a long list of things actually, starting with herding cats, and ending with painting the Forth Road Bridge or pushing a boulder endlessly up a hill as a punishment from the gods.
I have one class of three-year-olds a week, and frankly it’s one class too many. After spending nearly four months in their company, I have come to realise that there are several inherent design flaws in the construction of three-year-olds and they really need fixing:
Firstly – there is the vast gulf between their actual ability and their perception of their ability
‘Can you write your name?’ I asked one small girl during her first lesson.
‘Yes,’ she replied, confidently, and then produced something which looked more like an electrocardiogram.
So we moved on to writing the letter A.
In this picture you can see a couple of beautiful green As that I drew on the board. The surrounding squiggles are their copies – upside down, stepladdered, or just random lines – but they were delighted with their efforts and thought that they looked just like mine … or possibly better.
Likewise their cut-and-stick copy of Inky the Inchworm, which they made whilst looking carefully at the original, which was on the table to help them.
They managed create Inky’s identical twin …
… presumably after a tragic accident with a lawnmower.
Secondly – they have a woefully short concentration span. This afternoon, in the middle of singing a song, they all suddenly and inexplicably disappeared under a table.
Thinking I could lure them out, I picked up a story book,
‘Who wants to come and see the colour of the birthday cake in this picture?’ I called enticingly.
‘Nobody!’ came the answering shout from under the table.
So I sat and looked at the cake by myself … and it was pink, in case you were wondering.
Thirdly – they tell you things that you’d really rather not know, like ‘I have stomach ache, but my poo won’t come out.’
I have no idea what I’m supposed to say in response to this sort of revelation, or indeed any orifice-related revelation – and I’ve had a few. So I generally make do with a half smile and an understanding nod of the head, before moving smartly out of the danger zone.
And fourthly – there is a magnetic attraction between three-year-olds and climbing frames.
So much so that they can’t pass one without being drawn towards it at high speed. Ferrets hurtling up drainpipes could pick up a few tips from three-year-olds swarming up the nearest climbing frame.
I’m so sick of prising them off multiple times per lesson, that I have devised a fiendish plan … to grease the top rungs. Then next time they give me a defiant look out of the corner of their eye as they race towards it, I will be able to smile calmly and wait for them to reach the top, ping off and slither to the ground. Then I will simply round them up and herd them back to the classroom.
In the meantime, whilst I wait for my Amazon delivery of two kilos of Extra-Slippery Bear Grease, if anyone knows of any quick fixes or updates that I can apply to reconfigure these mini-menaces, please let me know.