As a follow up to last month's post, we wanted to introduce you to the teacher in Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. We created Teacher Harriet, named after the original Neighborhood of Make-Believe character, Harriet the Cow, to be the ideal teacher. She's warm, nurturing, playful, and guides the children to help them learn in all situations. When our preschool characters have a conflict, we carefully wrote her to be non-judgmental and pro-active in the way she gives insights and strategies so the children can understand and apply what she's teaching. In one of our favorite episodes, Prince Wednesday wants to play dinosaur in the play corner while Katerina and Daniel want to play house. Teacher Harriet doesn't reprimand any of the kids. She sees the moment as a teachable one and sings to the kids, "Find a way to play together," which embraces their unique view of the play situation and challenges them to figure out how to play together.
So, go hug a teacher and thank them for all of the many things that they do each and every day to grow and nurture our children to keep them happy, healthy, and above all else, safe.
3 Tips We Can All Learn From Teacher Harriet:
1. Get on their level: When talking to kids, our approach has always been to get down to the preschoolers’ level, physically and cognitively. Kneeling down to establish eye contact with a preschooler is key in gaining their full attention and trust. Secondly, it is important to speak in terms that a preschooler will understand. Whether explaining the process of ‘voting’ or teaching the concept of ‘empathy,’ we should be sure to break it down simply for a three or four-year old to understand.
2. Be Present: In our hectic everyday lives, it is easy to be distracted. Be sure to give your full attention and show children you are completely engaged in what they are saying and doing. When we encourage open communication and non-judgmental listening, children will feel comfortable coming to us and expressing their feelings and needs.
3. Celebrate Diversity: Paying homage to Fred Rogers, it is important to remind preschoolers, “I like you just the way you are.” Embracing differences and recognizing their unique and special traits will help them to become confident and compassionate adults.