Things I learned in Preschool

Another year has passed by and I sent my lovelies off to kindergarten today. I cried during the good-bye song. I never do. 25 years and I can hold it together But this group was …. different. I cannot put my finger on it, but they were special in the way that I marveled at how smart there were. Not once did I have to say “It is not okay to lick the bathroom floor” Yes I have had to say it in years previous. I couldn’t trick these kids. They were on to me. Too smart for you Miss Tourist! It’s true, they were. I learned some cool stuff anyways. It is ALWAYS a good day when you learn something new, in this case -it was a good year because I learned 7 new things.

1) Kids don’t taste like cookies. One day I was sitting at the manipulative table talking with a young girl. We were discussing what made a nice person. We talked about being kind and helpful. I said to the child “you’re so sweet I bet if I ate you, you would taste like cookies”
The child replied, “no, I’d taste like skin”

2) Not all kids want to be teacher when they grow up. Shocking isn’t it? Around the circle we went asking what we were going to be when we grew up. I heard a Captain America, Teacher, Dad, but my favorite? A Psychologist. What 4 year old knows that? That was awesome.

3) When you live in a large family, sometimes you don’t know everyone. A mom brought a puppy to school to show the class the new family member. I asked the little boy (who was the owner of the puppy) what is your pups name? His reply with wide eyes innocence, “I HAVE A PUPPY????”

4) Four year olds know all about sarcasm. I often sit at the snack table and ask all kinds of questions. For example “what did you eat for breakfast?” The focus for me is to hear sentence length, content, vocabulary and if the child can follow the direction of the conversation. At the beginning of the year they would just look at me and blink. By June they would say “My mom made bananas and cereal. I then had cheese”. I would mess it up and pretend I didn’t hear what they were saying. So my reply would be “You had bananas, cereal and FLEAS? Is you mom crazy?” Today I knew they were ready to graduate because I received a sarcastic reply “Yes Miss Tourist I eat FLEAS for breakfast…”  That was AWESOME!

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5) Sometimes science experiments go very wrong and scientists never cry. We had 6 caterpillars this year and watched them change into chrysalis and then waited FOREVER to change into butterflies. Only two turned into beautiful butterflies. One had shredded wings. Two never made it to the chrysalis stage and one never came out of his chrysalis. The children decided that the butterfly with the shredded wings would be bird food. I swear to GOD that is what they said. “Poor little doody is bird food. Game over Miss Tourist” We talked about the other one that never came out, BIRD FOOD they all chimed in! Wow… practical yet heartless. No one cried.

6) No one likes food. We put a variety of fruit and veg on the table every day with the single rule of you must try. Try means touch, taste, sniff or lick. It does not mean swallow. Although swallow is what we hope for. We hear a lot of “I don’t like…” what ever is on the table and then we ask have you tried it today? Of course the answer is NO. Today we had a gift of Rainbow bread from student. I judged it just like my table companions. Only I never judge out loud. One gal said, I HATE RAINBOW BREAD it is DISGUSTING” I was inclined to agree, but we all had taste it before the ice cream celebration sundae social could begin. So we all poked it, sniffed it and then ate it. I am happy to report we did not die after swallowing it. In fact, it tasted just like White Toast. The young gal who denied liking it, divided up the Rainbow bread for her peers. She gave everyone a single piece, and 5 for herself. Apparently she didn’t hate it today.

7) I learned that this group was the very first group who really knew what it meant when you said, today is the last day. One fellow who was arguably the brightest in the class, didn’t seem to understand. He said, if today is the last day, what will happen when we get on the bus tomorrow? I explained to him, the bus won’t be coming. School is over for 64 days. Where will we go? he replied with a look of panic on his face. I held both his hands and explained again, Your mom will look after you. You don’t come back here anymore because today you are smart enough for kindergarten. He looked at me with a sad expression and said, but what happens to our school? Is it closed now for 64 days, just like the sandbox was when we put sand in our friends hair?

He walked away, and then came back to hug me. He finally understood – or perhaps he was in denial before. This was the class that cried when we group hugged, and didn’t want to run around the trees while we waited for the bus. They stood close to their teachers, held our hands and talked a lot about “remember when”.


I had an interesting conversation with a 4 year old girl today. Let me set the scene:

White and blue classroom with one small window in the corner. 3 small tables sitting in close proximity to each other. Each table has one adult and 5 children under five but over three….yes they are four years old. It was snack time and we were munching on apples and naan bread, sipping beverages of milk and water.

The purpose of snack is not the obvious. Nutrition and hunger satisfaction is not a primary concern. It is imperative that a healthy snack is provided, but the PURPOSE of snack time is to generate conversation and have the four year olds relate personal experiences. I think that goal was achieved today.

After labeling all the items on the table, food was passed around and the children served themselves. It was silent at my table. I mean you could hear crickets 40 miles away. I initiated conversation by asking about pets. Who had a puppy or a cat at their house? Silence. More apples were passed around. about 5 minutes later a girl – Who I will call Child 1- pipes up with “I have a rabbit”.

Me: Oh really? What’s your rabbits name?

Child 1: Fleosjfjrgssgjbkg

Me: Pardon me? Can you tell me again?

Child 1:Fleosjfjrgssgjbkg

Me: (thinking hmmm… I have no idea) What a great name for a rabbit! What do you feed it? Cookies?

Child 1: Rabbit food

Then Child 2 pipes up with a food related question. (Of course this is great news, keeping the story lines connected, everyone is on the same topic)

Child 2: Do you have milk in your Ta-tas?

My eyes popped out of my head.

Me: Pardon me? What did you say? (thinking I heard it wrong)


Me: No I do not. I don’t have any babies at home.

Child: Mommy is going to let her milk dry up too. The babies are too big now.

Then we got back to the pressing story of what rabbits eat. In case you are wondering what “rabbit food” is, Child 1 said it’s grass and pellets with carrots on Saturday… Now you know.

Things I learned This Year in Pre-School

Most of you know I am a teacher of young children 10 months of the year. Summer vacation is around the corner and I am very excited! Teachers are often more excited than children when summer break arrives. True Story.

Every year I learn a thing or two to add to fountain of useless knowledge. This year is no exception. Remember Kung Fu with David Carradine? And how he, the Grasshopper taught the Master and something new? Well, my dear readers that is exactly what happened to me. My young padawans became the Jedi Master and I learned many new things from them. So much, in fact, I wish to share some incredible lessons from my grasshoppers.

Things the Edmonton Tourist Learned in Pre-School

  1. You won’t die if you eat food found in the playground, on the bus, in the hallway or even on the bathroom floor. But fresh broccoli will kill you.
  2. Children have zero feeling in their faces from the nose down. It is completely numb. This is the reason their nose is constantly dripping. They have no idea slimy, colourful streams of mucus is always running down their faces.
  3. You can go all year without having soap touch your hands and NEVER get sick or miss a day of school.
  4. Wearing underwear under a dress or skirt is a good idea.
  5. It is socially acceptable to lick the bathroom floor. Your peers will not think it’s odd.
  6. If your bum is itchy – scratch it. If you can’t reach it – your friend will help.
  7. Closing your eyes makes you invisible.
  8. If an adult asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, say 4 and walk away.
  9. When you paint a paper gingerbread man and glue REAL candy to it, the grade 5s down the hall will eat all the glued candy off.

And the # 10 thing I learned?

      10.  Your mom doesn’t work at school, you have to wipe your own bum.


Top 11 Things I Never Thought I Would Say at Work…Yet I do

In May of 1988, I had my diploma in hand and my eyes were filled with starry eyed ambition. I had just graduated from college – the first time – and I had a great job lined up. I was ready to face challenges and change the world. Looking back at my first day of teaching and all the subsequent days in between, there are phrases I hear myself say that I never EVER expected I would ever need to say at work.  This is another edition of the Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11.

I would like to dedicate this blog to Barbie Arm.

The Edmonton Tourist’s Top 11 things I never thought I would say at work…yet I do.

11. Take your hands OUT of your pants please

10. I don’t want to hear what your poop looks like, tell your mom

9. Markers do not go in our nose

8. When you wear a dress, remember to wear underwear

7. Put your penis away

6. Pull your pants up, I don’t want to look at your bum

5. Take your shoe out of your mouth

4. We pee in the toilet, not on the floor

3. I don’t want to smell your hands

2. When our body makes a sound, we say “excuse me”

And the #1 thing I NEVER EVER Thought I would have to say at work

1. It is NOT OKAY to lick your friends nose

How was your day?

You are Welcome! But seriously, Thank You.

I have had a very interesting week. Stars are starting to align for me. A friend today said, I’m not superstitious but I think something amazing is about to happen for you. Really? I hope so. I don’t want to jinx anything, but damn it universe, I am DUE!

This may be old news to some of you but new to others. 20 some-odd years ago I was a Pre-school Teacher in an Edmonton Suburb where BMW’s and Audi’s were way more common than Escorts and Civics. I learned many, many things about myself, both good and bad. I had made huge mistakes but also made enormous good choices. I was in my early twenties. I was bright eyed and bushy tailed, I loved my job. I loved my students. I made amazing connections with these young 4 year olds. They taught me plenty. Many times over the recent years I thought about what a different world I work in now, yet still thought about these individuals and wondered how their life turned out.

Studies show by having a positive preschool experience can lead to success later in life. These children are more likely to stay in school, and move on to secondary education.

Over the past little while, former students have been showing up in my life. I am taking a class with a mother of a former student. How did I remember this mom 21 years later? Her child had a profound impact on me. We connected on a level that I cannot explain. I have thought about her many times over the years. I even considered naming ChatterBox after her. I discover she is about to graduate from a university program and about to become the type of professional I work with everyday. How surreal would it be if she ended up in my staff-room? Secretly, I would love that.

Yesterday I went to my Pharmacy. The Student Pharmacist had her name embroidered on her lab coat. I looked at her face, and knew who it was. I hadn’t seen her in 22 years. Her brilliance as a four year old astounded me then. Yet here she was explaining to me about possible side-effects. I said “I think I was your Pre-school Teacher” She looked at me as if I was bonkers. I said, “you were allergic to milk and peanuts. I could only give you rice products for dairy and I wore an epipen everyday – just in case” She became all excited and said “I out grew the milk allergy!!” YAY! I told her to say hi to her mom for me and was  happy she had been successful at school. She replied with, I really loved preschool.

That made me smile.

I have met several other children over the past two weeks that I use to teach, about 7 in all. I love the way their face lights up as they remember me.

Yesterday I registered Genetic Offspring for High School. He had a grade one teacher who made tremendous impact on him. She loved science, taught my son why you should love science, and he never looked back. Talking with the school counsellor yesterday, she convinced him he really needed AP Science, then she would let him take Chem 20 as an option in his second semester. My little boy man-child went to bed incredibly excited to start grade 10. His head swimming with plans to study math so he can succeed beyond expectations in physics. He will do it. He has had some amazing teacher mentors that inspire him.

Thinking about the effect one person can make in your life can be overwhelming. For me personally, there is one. This is person I will be eternally grateful for. They taught me I matter, my feelings are important, and showered me with all the support and comfort I needed during a time when I really didn’t think I mattered all that much. I haven’t spoke with this person in a really long time. I need to send them a note to let them know how grateful I am. I challenge you to do the same.

Meeting past students brightened my days this week. I know I didn’t get them through University, but I like to think I may have helped. Actually, I know I helped one in particular, because she told me so.

Next stop on the Edmonton Tourist Journey…Thank-you-ville