Of course there are lots of differences between children and adults: they’re small and we’re tall; they’re young and we’re old; they’re inexperienced and we’re experienced. But beyond these simple and obvious differences, there are some interesting differences that we caring adults would do well to recognize. Children live in the moment. Waiting, planning, and preparing for one’s future are adult skills that don’t just come naturally to children. Children live in the moment. And in the moment they are happy or sad, crying or laughing, playing or resting, but certainly not planning for how best to prepare themselves for college. They can barely prepare themselves for anything, but instead they readily move from moment to moment with boundless energy, enchanting wonderment, and not a care for what lies ahead. Their lack of foresight causes consternation for many parents and teachers. Yet it is something we should learn to value and even practice in our own lives – living for the moment. Oh, we don’t need to discard our appointment books or our strategic planning so vital to our movement up the job ladder, but we do need to think about the importance of the here and now.
David Elkind wrote two books, The Hurried Child and All Grown Up and Nowhere to Go, that are further substantiation of how we overplan and overbook our children’s lives so that their childhoods evaporate and seem almost unlived. Some children are so encouraged to behave like or become grown ups, either by well-meaning adults or by our over-present media that they spend their childhoods in constant preparation for the next step. And when they finally arrive at that next step, they frequently ask, “And now what? Is that all there is?”
The school experience should not be one of constantly getting ready, getting ready for the next grade, getting ready for the next school, getting ready for college, getting ready for graduate school, getting ready for the rest of their lives. School should be about making the most of each moment shed by the child, about trading that precious, valuable moment of the child’s life for something worthy of the child’s time. The child lives in the moment so that the moments can really matter. We adults need to trust the child’s ability to accumulate moments that matter into experiences of value. Then, too, maybe we could unwind and find ourselves living in the present.
As our school closes for this school year, we would like to thank all of you who entrusted your children’s moments to us. We hope that we cut a good deal for your children, that we didn’t waste their time, that we weren’t too boring, that we didn’t rush them. We hope that as they grow older they will gain an appreciation for what we were all about and what we were trying to be for them.
And now with the summer vacation ahead of you, we extend to you our best wishes for memorable moments of summer bliss. We hope this time with your children will be restful, too, as you find some of those lazy days. We look forward to seeing most of you again at summer’s end.
Director/Elementary 1 Teacher