Someone asked me if I worked in a prison. No, I don't work in a prison. The picture above shows a few of the daycare boys during an outing to the pumpkin patch. They certainly had no qualms about being put behind bars. I laughed it off- until I thought about how daycare and prison share a lot of similarities.
I guess that would make me the warden...
Here are just a few observations:
- I allow certain privileges for good behavior.
- I have broken up a brawl once or twice when the children don't get along.
- We have come close to a riot once or twice when they didn't want beets for lunch.
- I use solitary punishment in the form of timeouts when my "inmates" are a danger to the others.
- I serve lunch cafeteria style and they are each responsible for scraping their own plates.
- I have a "lights out" time for naps.
- I control the television and regulate the hours they get to watch.
- We have daily exercise or outside time that is closely monitored by the "warden".
- Occasionally, I have someone who doesn't respect authority and tries to push the limit.
- I notice certain "gang" affiliations- two year olds stick together and so do the four year olds.
- On occasion I find contraband items in their pockets- candy, sticks, rocks, etc.
- Mail time is exciting- we never know what we will receive in the mail.
- We look forward to visitors and going home. We miss our parents!
- We learn from our mistakes.
- An obvious difference is that we don't sport mandatory orange jumpers. Orange clashes with my red hair and the striped uniforms don't flatter my hips, so I have forgone the dress code. We wear play clothes or dress up in old prom dresses, cowboy hats, and Halloween costumes that express how we feel that day.
- We sing songs, play games, explore our environments, and create art.
- We look forward to rhyming words and counting cheerios.
- We play with blocks and cars.
- Sandboxes are still magical.
- We all want to be fire fighters or princesses when we grow up.
- Snack time is the best part of the afternoon, especially if cupcakes are involved.
- Reading books aloud is a fun way to pass the morning.
All these items basically come down to two key ideas:
- One, structure and consistency are needed in any environment.
- Second, nurturing and learning in a safe environment produce amazing educational opportunities.
What do you think?