November 3, 2023
by Kania Johnson, MPP, Program Trainer at Innocent Technologies
In the world of education, early childhood educators hold a unique position. They are often the first people outside of a child’s family to introduce them to the wonders of learning. Much of this journey begins with the simple act of sharing stories. These stories are more than just words on a page; they are the seeds of imagination, the beginnings of wishes, wonders, and endless possibilities. The tales they impart become the foundation upon which children build their educational dreams.
Stories are the keys that unlock a child’s innate truths and desires, tapping into their unique passions and curiosities. These stories open doors, revealing who they are and what touches their hearts. They help children recognize what they dislike and, most importantly, what they are curious to learn more about.
I recently had the privilege of receiving some book recommendations from the wonderful early childhood educators in our community. They shared their favorite stories to read to their students. Among the cherished titles were classics like “Charlotte’s Web,” “The Dot,” “Wonder,” and “Ferdinand the Bull.” The books they shared triggered a wave of nostalgia, taking me back to a beloved book from my own childhood, “Harold and the Purple Crayon.” More importantly, they rekindled memories of the person who read it to me.
I want to share my story with you, so let’s go back to the week before my high school graduation. In my mailbox, I discovered a card from my Pre-K/Kindergarten teacher, someone I hadn’t seen since my early school days. The flood of emotions that surged through me was indescribable. Here was one of my favorite teachers of all time, taking the time to remember me! The card was simple yet deeply touching:
Congratulations on receiving the Athena Award. I will be thinking of you on your last week of high school and throughout graduation weekend. This is such a special time to enjoy after all your hard work.
Mrs. [My Favorite Teacher]”
I excitedly shared this card with my dad, who reminded me of the profound impact she had on my love for education. This love was planted in my heart through a book called “Harold and the Purple Crayon.” I remember how, after reading that book, I fell head over heels in love with the world of books. Each story felt like an opportunity to wield my own purple crayon, creating adventures and gaining new knowledge with every page turned. Most importantly, each book, every story time, and each day I spent with my teacher and my classmates contributed to a blossoming and positive relationship with education. These bonds were not only vital for my self-concept, but they also served as a lifeline during the challenges my dad and I faced throughout my educational journey.
Early childhood educators have a profound role in expanding the worlds and minds of the children they teach. It all begins with sharing stories, such as “Little Critter,” “Charlotte’s Web,” and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear.” The animated, life-giving reading of these stories takes young minds on adventurous rides, filled with wonder. The stories are accompanied by activities and lessons that serve as fertile ground for questions, wonderings, and memories that last a lifetime.
These stories do more than build relationships between teachers and students; they build connections between students and the act of learning itself. They invite parents and families into the magical worlds of their children, resulting in a delightful array of artwork, handcrafted treasures, and the inevitable, incredibly adorable stories (after all, kids do say the darndest things).
So, to all the early childhood educators out there, remember that the stories you share have a profound and lasting impact. They open doors to endless possibilities for your students and set the stage for the high expectations that both children and families will carry with them throughout their educational journeys. The seeds you sow today will bear fruit for years to come.