Before we teach a class, we prepare our minds to give information to children. We ready our hearts to share our spirituality. We organize the classroom by mixing paints, finding books, setting out crayons and scissors. We do all this to give of our minds, our hearts and our creativity to the children.

This is right and good. However, all relationships include the elements of give and take. Little children do not come to us as empty vessels. They are full of life and they bring something to us as well.

That ‘something’ is an intangible we call hope. It is hard not to feel hopeful in the company of preschoolers! The light in their eyes, the quickness of their movements and the words of their sincere prayers all lift the hearts of adults.

For adults, though, hope is not so easily maintained. We get mired in concerns about time and schedules, government and world events, money and bills to pay. We face challenges and difficulties that dash our hopes.

As teachers of young children, we can look to these children to renew our sense of hope. When the children are with us, we feel it. What is it they have that we can learn? What makes young children hopeful?

  • They believe that life is basically good. Unless they have experienced significant trauma, most children expect goodness to come their way. When you feel hopeless, look for goodness.
  • Children are new to the world. Everything they experience is novel and therefore interesting. Listen for something new each day. Think about something you know but approach it from a different perspective.
  • This newness leads children to be open to learning new information, new skills, new personal strengths. Do something that does not come naturally to you, whether it is to take a class, eat sushi, jog around the block, or listen to language tapes.
  • Children are ready to be silly at a moment’s notice. Life is often absurd, and preschoolers don’t ignore it, get embarrassed or angry about that. They laugh. They go along with it and get silly. Then they laugh some more. Anyone who is laughing has some hope. Get silly.
  • And they are open to love—God’s love, their families’ love, a teacher’s love. Open your heart. This leads to the words of Italian architect, scholar and Dominican brother, Fra Giovanni, who wrote in 1513:

“No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven.

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant. Take peace.

The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet, within our reach, is joy. Take joy.”

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