Yet.  It’s a word I use often at school with children.  When they try hard and struggle, and say, “I can’t”, I add the word “yet”.  A child might not be able to do it just now, but with practice they will.  Yet.

Today the tables were turned.  ‘Yet’ became the children’s words to me.  Here is what happened:

It was a rainy day.  There was extra time for music and the autoharp.  Children picked their favorite songs, and we sang and danced.  “Five Little Monkeys” was a top request, multiple times.  Then, children wanted to sing “Red White and Blue.”  With the autoharp.

I don’t know how to play that song, but I have the book.  Maybe the book has the music.”

The book had the music on the last page.  Life was good.  Well, it wasn’t good.  I showed children how there were letters above the score of music, and how I could match that to the letters on the buttons of the autoharp.  Easy, right?  Not!

As I started to play and sing, I struggled to find the right button with the matching letter.  I missed.  I stopped.  I tried many times, but it was hard.  The children grabbed pretend phones, turned them into video cameras, and decided to videotape me playing.  Maybe that would help.  Besides, imaginary play is fun and creative.  This was a great idea.  Einstein said it best: “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

Finally, I let out a big sigh and an “ugh”, and stopped in frustration.  I had made so many mistakes.  This is where the tables turned.  I told the children that I didn’t know if I could do this.

They said, “Yet.  You can’t do this yet, but keep practicing.”

Jayden said, “Jennie, take a deep breath.”  I did.  “Now, blow out your candle.”  I did.  He said, “Take another deep breath.”  I did.  Now, blow out dragon breath.”  I did.

Whoa!  This is what we teachers do with children.  Mindfulness.  It calms their body, energizes their brain, and focuses on the task at hand.  And now the children were the teachers, telling me what to do.

Did it work?  You bet it did!  I played much better than I had done before.  The children sang, loud and proud.  They continued to videotape me with pretend phones, which was very cool.

It was important for me to be in the shoes of the child, and for children to be in the shoes of a teacher.  Thank goodness for rainy days.  You never know what might happen, yet.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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92 Responses to Yet…

  1. reocochran says:

    Oh, goody! I am first to comment, my Jennie! ❤
    I am so proud of you to share this. I like the idea of taking breaths, then blow out a candle. 🕯 I like the second breath, then blow out dragon breath! 🐲
    I’m so happy the children helped you through your frustration and it worked!! Hurray for lessons “paid forward!” 🎶 🎼

  2. Peter Klopp says:

    As a retired teacher I can say certainty that the rapport you have established with your students is note- and praise-worthy. A learning environment par excellence!

  3. Ohhh this gave me goosebumps!!! The power of the word Yet, and teaching at play! WOW! Poignant stuff. I’m going to be adding the word Yet when #1 Grandson whines, or cries that he can’t do something from today onward!

  4. perfect timing and the perfect word. Such a great thing to remember. Love the dragon breath.

  5. Ritu says:

    At one of our positive mindset workshops the word Yet was a huge thing! A school here created a series of stories about the Yet-i who needed to overcome various obstacles using the word yet as his positive thinking!
    I say it to my kids too, and myself!

  6. Darlene says:

    One small word but so powerful. And just as powerful is giving the children the opportunity to be the teacher. Love this post!!

  7. Opher says:

    That’s the attitude. If at first you don’t succeed……………..

  8. Such a small word that can make all the difference! 😉

  9. beetleypete says:

    To hear the children returning your encouraging teaching must indeed fill you with joy and satisfaction, Jennie.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  10. Norah says:

    How wonderful, Jennie. It is always so affirming to see your lessons put into practice. Bring on the rainy day opportunities for learning.

  11. Dan Antion says:

    What a wonderful lesson they shared back with you! That had to make you feel very good!

  12. Loved this Jennie! “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” What a wonderful quote, and “yet” is a wonderful, powerful word. Hugs.

  13. Glorious! You make me cry or rather the joy of experiencing what your children experience makes me cry. Does that make sense?!

  14. suewinson says:

    How inspiring! Children are amazing learners, and you are amazing too! Thanks for sharing the story.

  15. Let’s back up a bit…I like that there ‘was extra time for music and the autoharp.’ But I extra like hearing your gung-ho attitude of :“I don’t know how to play that song, but I have the book. Maybe the book has the music.”
    Essentially you were gonna sight read something on the fly in the context of a type of ‘performance’ in the classroom with you as the teacher…Brava!
    What you experienced was an “affirming failure”…I just coined that word and it’s a doozey of a positive thing!
    Safe place to go with your gut and perform, but realized you got in too deep and then the magic of ‘YET’ came out of the mouth of babes to enable you to continue onto the other side of your ‘performance.’ Thus allowing you the freedom to go with your gut again when the next sightreading-performance situation arises.
    Can you see this?
    I hope so, you were not only ‘example’ but ‘student’ on an instrument…which will help those kids later on in a literal music sense if/when they take up an instrument.
    Already wrote too much!
    Kudo to the kids, but bravissima to you!

  16. ps- I love those socks!!!! 🙂

  17. You know now that they are listening and taking in what you tell them when they can parrot it right back at you later. 😉 Children take in so much more than we realize which is why it’s important to be careful of what we say and do around them. Loved reading this. Made my heart sing.

    • Jennie says:

      You said it well, Marlene. Children take in SO much more. When I see parents talking too freely in front of their children, it makes me sad. I’m so glad this made your heart sing. That makes my day! 😀

  18. Oh, Jennie, this is a wonderful life lesson for all of us, no matter what our age! Thank you for sharing. 😊

  19. I think I could have done with a teacher like you!

  20. I love the message of this post, Jennie! Your classroom is such a nurturing environment for learning, and you’re a fantastic role model. 🙂💛

  21. magarisa says:

    Wow! How inspiring.

  22. Lively Life says:

    So awesome.
    Last line -great 🙂

  23. What a heartwarming post, Jennie. Thak you for sharing this.

  24. a delightful story-and I too use “yet” or well not now- One of the beautiful things of many, of working with children, is episodes such as yours.

  25. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Jennie, This is another lovely post!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Charles! BTW, WordPress keeps unfollowing you blog on my blog lately. So, apologies that I missed your last few posts. Will try to get this fixed soon.

  26. The best gymnastics coach I ever had said the same thing to me. It was the best lesson I ever took with me through my whole life. “Yet” is a word full of untold promise!

  27. What a great post, Jennie. Yes, it is important for children to know that adults also struggle sometimes. Learning is a life long experience and doesn’t end when you finish your formal education.

  28. John Fioravanti says:

    This is a wonderful story, Jennie! Thanks for sharing!

  29. Excellent story that we all can learn from. The teachers learn from the students, the students learn from the teachers – the best way to grow and learn. I have many “Yet’s” still in my life. I’m just going to practice that breathing in and breathing out a bit more. 🙂
    By the way, love the socks that fill in your shoes!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much! You said it well. “Yet” makes the world go round. I had the pleasure of telling Jayden’s mother today what he did. So glad you liked the socks! 😀

  30. Such a lovely post. I also use the word yet with my kids. When they were small and said I can’t I would tell them ‘you just haven’t learned it yet’ . I’m also with you on the challenges of playing instruments to a group, it stresses me out every time.

  31. That is such a cool story, Jennie. Wow. Those little sponge-brains are picking up wonderful lifelong lessons. ❤

  32. Aw, this is great! Such a wonderful way for kids to see that everything they try might take practice to get it right. So many times people think someone ‘has a gift’ or ‘great talent.’ That may be true but more than likely they’ve worked extremely hard to get to that point beyond where many others give up. Fun to see you down on the floor with the kids instructing YOU for a change.

    • Jennie says:

      Well said, Marcia. It is hard work, and when children hear the word “yet”, that gives them the drive to keep trying. Yes, it was wonderful to be the child and have children teaching me. Even better for them. 🙂

  33. Annika Perry says:

    Wow!! A wonderful post and I’m whooping with joy for you and the children – teaching each other! Heartwarming story. 😀

  34. Anastasia says:

    Yet is a fun word…

    Green but blue.
    Green yet blue.

  35. Your words are music to my heart
    Being a teacher to young children – is so rewarding ! You watch their eyes light up and are ready to go on the adventure

  36. As a teacher myself I am always reminded that we need to teach resilience and the perseverance to keep going. It is, for many children, not a natural innate skill. I think music is a very clear representation of that which may not be so obvious in other subject areas. Thank you!

  37. We need more educators like you.

  38. Great post Jennie! Ah, the power of a growth mindset. I too love the word yet! There is so much power in it. You haven’t figured ou this math…yet. You haven’t learned to play this instrument….yet. You have learned empathy….yet. Thank you for this powerful word! We should use it every day. 🙂

  39. Nicolai Cull says:

    Yeah. Wasn’t it Shopenhauer who said that life is meaningless and the only thing that makes it worthwhile is music? Check out my protest song

  40. ren says:

    Reminds me of the book, “I can’t, said the ant”…. I’ll bet you have already read it 😀 ….. This was, as usual, a wonderful share. Thank you, again. Hugz

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