Sunday, December 25, 2011

An Open Letter for the Holidays + Teachers

Dearest Debbie and Each and All of My Friends who LOVE and CARE FOR our children:


Chanukah Candles

Christmas Candles
Source: via Julie on Pinterest

These beautiful holidays of lights--Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa - are always filled with layers of memories and messages.  Yes, sparkling trees, glowing menorahs, flickering candles and gifts of all sizes and wrappings abound but the brightest flames of all are the shining sparks of wisdom that help us remember the true gifts we share.  Gathered from decades of being with young children in settings across the country, my resolutions for the coming year are rekindled by memories such as these.
Kwanzaa candles

Our long ago program director, Linda, was looking out of her living room window and watched in
frozen shock her young almost four year old son picking EVERY flower in the garden.  As she opened the door for him, she tried not to show her dismay at the deflowering of her beautiful, hard-earned work.
          "Darling," she said, "You didn't have to pick ALL the flowers in the garden for me, you could have just given
me one flower."
          "Mommy," he explained as he poured the flowers over her, " I love you too much for just one flower. I love you more than all the flowers."
Judy, one of our most beloved subs in our early childhood program, awoke one morning feeling very low, a real downer. She arrived at  the classroom of three and a half year olds with a heavy step and low energy. As she walked into the classroom, Josh welcomed her with a loud, enthusiastic greeting,
         "Hello GORGEOUS!" It made her day!

Dawn taught mostly children of poverty, dysfunctional families and transient addresses for many years in an urban school system. She was a devoted and committed teacher who felt a deep commitment to her chosen profession.  One day, one of her young students, who also had a speech challenge, stuttering, came up to her and said,
      "Mi...Mi...Miss Heyman, I  I  I have have a ri-ri-ri-riddle for you!"
      "What is it, dear?"
      "Wha-wha-what what has two two legs and says l-l-l-love you?"
      "I can't guess, tell me the answer."
       He pointed to himself and with a great smile said, "M-m-m-m-meeeeeee!"

So Debbie and Friends, You can guess what the blessings of the season and all seasons, this holiday and all holidays and all the every-days are......... yes, love!  Theodore Roethke wrote,"Teaching is the one profession that permits love."

In our so high technology driven era, with communication systems beyond the imagination and gaps-in-communication larger than ever (I still use smoke signals), with media dominated by mean spirited programs, speeches, video games, harsh campaigns, instant signals of alarm and violence, it is so easy to get lost in the tangle.

But, we, who are called to this "work", this sacred calling, have so much to remember and to keep at the top of our New Year's resolutions list. Our children NEED us more than ever. For so many of our most precious young children, we are the only safe, welcoming, loving  place they know. Not all of them are as fortunate as our flower child described above.

We have minimum effect on situations often beyond our control: home environments, family relationships, unemployment, dangerous neighborhoods- but we have GREAT control over the space we share with the children. And when that space is warm, welcoming, loving, encouraging, exciting and safe-at-any-speed for every child,  we are sharing the greatest gifts possible with each other and our youngest students.

It's always the season to keep our promises to strengthen ourselves, stay loyal to our beliefs and 
values, articulate to families, to administrators, to community, our way of "teaching in the key of life" so our children learn to be lifelong learners through every joyful path-- through fun, song, play, story, projects, books, trips, poetry, tricks- every way possible to help children succeed and love learning--to teach us to love with all the flowers and to remind us that the best way they learn is when we share our time and space with love.  

Happy holidays, dearest Debbie and Friends.    
Love and Peace,  Mimi
Mimi Brodsky Chenfeld

P.S. Friends, Teaching in the "Key of Life" is totally consistent and in harmony with Developmentally Appropriate Practices!

Here's another glorious image from Pinterest on a possible way to create artfully lit candles.


  1. In my wildest imagination I never thought I would find my Christmas gift on the internet this morning. Thank you! My house is quiet, my son is actually working this morning (thank a police officer whenever you get a chance!) and it is just the dogs and me today. I really appreciate this wonderful article. Thank you again!

  2. Hey Mimi!!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and lovely reminder of how much children need inspired guides and beautiful moments to connect with the energy already present in them. Thank you for all you gifts Mimi!!

  3. An insightful blog on Kwanzaa.Best wishes for your future posts.

  4. Lovely thoughts, Mimi ... perfect for the holidays and New Year's resolutions! I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page: Happy New Year! :) Deb


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