Cartoon of two adults and baby with a scarecrow. A man says about the scarecrow, “He doesn’t interact with the kids much. But he’s always available and on time.”
I can usually tell when someone doesn’t feel comfortable in a classroom. They don’t look much different from the scarecrow in my cartoon. They’re stiff, standing tall among all the kids. They do dress better than a scarecrow, however. They also have a more worried look than the scarecrow in this picture.
Many of these stiff scarecrows loosen up if they stick with it long enough to get to know kids. If they’re consistent and show up regularly, these teachers and volunteers end up becoming a very important part of a child’s life.
Children need to interact with adults that care. The early years are crucial not only for learning about the world, but learning how to interact with other people. As children, we learn how society works and how to negotiate our way around it before we learn how to tie our shoes. A child’s interaction with adults is crucial to that.
It seems obvious that a scarecrow, a mannequin, a statue wouldn’t be an appropriate supervisor for a child. Yet, our society pays adults who work with children some of the smallest salaries you’ll find. We treat children volunteers as if their work isn’t valuable since they don’t insist on a paycheck. One of the first items to be cut in government and institution budgets are the programs that benefit teachers and children.
The workers in our daycares, our school and our churches who work with children matter immensely. It matters for this next generation and for their future.