Saturday morning I would arrive at Columbia Preschool, say good morning to the always cheerful staff at the front desk and make my way into the classroom. Gary, my co-teacher, and I would spend several minutes chatting while putting the classroom toys out of the reach of the children who would soon be arriving and getting out our own books, scarves, shakers and instruments out to play with. Then I would head back out to the lobby to welcome the families to the class.
Even just checking in the kids and their families was a joy. Some kids came in already singing or dancing. “We are in the classroom down the hall. I can see you’re ready to dance, just follow the music!” This became my Saturday morning mantra. The most memorable introduction I had was a little girl who came in said “Hi how are you today?”
I said, “I’m great, how are you?”
“Great! My name is Tess, what’s your name?” She said as this four year old reached out to shake my hand.
“It’s very nice to meet you Alisha”.
“You too Tess”
And they headed in for a very fun class.
Often our 9am classes were smaller, it’s hard to get up and motivated at 9am on a Saturday! But it never mattered if we had 3 kids or 23 kids, The classes were always a blast.
Some of the highlights of the classes for me were when we would read the books. Gary created a special song we would sing before reading
“Take a look, in a book, it’s time to read a story. Let’s take a look, in a book so come a sit down with me”.
Then toddling students would make their way back to their adults and sit down to read. It really was the kids who would bring classic books like “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “Giraffes Can’t Dance” to life by helping me count, make noises, name animals and dance.
It was also fun to see the adults in these classes. The kids were so involved in the class, and we had so much fun, inevitably the adults would want to join in. I remember in particular one day singing “Old Macdonald Had a Farm” and we asked the kids what animals were on the farm. One boy, at every pause, would yell out “a bull!” So finally we had to do it.
“Old Macdonald had a farm E I E I O. And on that farm he had a bull, E I E I O. With a…”
We all paused, what noise does a bull make? Then one of the adults made a loud snorting noise. So we all followed along! By the end of the song all adults and kids in the room were overcome with giggles after snorting like the bull that lived on old Macdonald’s farm.
By the time the class ended there were families I was getting to know pretty well. I knew what songs and books those kids liked, if they preferred scarves or shakers, and just how long we could expect their attention spans to last. It was a very special Saturday morning space, filled with laughter, books and music. Every person who came to a class contributed to that atmosphere. I feel so lucky that because of the New York City Children’s Theater, I got to spend my Saturday mornings playing and reading with so many amazing families.