The Power of “Yet”

“Yet” has quickly become one of our favorite words this year.  It’s the most powerful word in my classroom.  As children learn and grow, it is a constant process of trying, over and over again.  Saying “Practice makes perfect” can make a child feel gloomy or frustrated, especially if the task at hand is difficult.  Learning to pump a swing, hold a pencil and write letters, or connect a puzzle isn’t easy. 

That’s where “yet” comes in.  When a child says, “I can’t”, we follow through with, “You can’t…yet.  If you keep practicing, you can do it.”  It puts a positive spin on learning and trying, and it works!

Recently, “Gloria” was the Helper of the Day.  She struggled with recognizing the numbers on the calendar.  She was becoming very sad and upset.  Finally, she yelled out, “I can’t” and hung her head.  Well, children jumped into action.  Suddenly, there was a flurry of hugs and shouts of, “Gloria, you can’t yet.  Keep practicing.  We can help you.”  Lucca said, “How about she holds a lovey and tries?”  Allie said, “Gloria, if you do that song in your head, you can use that and do it all over again.” 

The song Allie is referring to is from Sesame Street.  We sing it all the time.  Music really does cement learning.  It cements feelings, too.

Everyone helped Gloria.  For those of you who do not know Gloria, she is my beloved classroom puppet.  She is very real to the children, as she has the same fears and tears that they have.  She is… well, different.  Aren’t we all different?  Gloria is a model for acceptance, diversity, and kindness.  It’s not surprising that the children reached out to help her when she said, “I can’t.”

A few months ago, Jayden asked me to play a particular song on the auto harp, one I had never played before.  That required reading the score, and plenty of hard work.  Finally, after ‘messing up’ many times in a row, I said, “I can’t do this.”  Jayden replied, “You can’t YET.”  He was right!  With a little more practice, I was able to play the song.  The power of yet.

Our school-wide theme is Watch Me Grow.  With all the activities we do to help children grow, “Yet” has become the single most popular and effective word this year.  I asked children to tell us what they are working hard to do, but cannot yet.  Check out this list for their answers, from buttoning, to riding a two-wheel bike, to reading.  The power of yet.  Yes, we can!


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.
This entry was posted in Diversity, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Gloria, Inspiration, Kindness, Love, music, self esteem, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to The Power of “Yet”

  1. beetleypete says:

    Always great to see the kids responding so positively to Gloria.
    Ollie understands the word ‘Yet’. But he always hears me say it as in “Not Yet”, when he wants his dinner too early. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Sue Vincent says:

    ‘Yet…’ that has been a magic word in my son’s recovery too.

  3. John Fioravanti says:

    A beautiful lesson, Jennie!

  4. willedare says:

    Another inspiring post! I, of course, love your affirmation/confirmation that “Music really does cement learning. It cements feelings, too.” My current personal challenge is focusing on songwriting — especially the work (copyrighting, for example) that one needs to do to promote one’s songs. I will remind myself of the concept of “yet” many times in the days/weeks/months/years ahead… Thank you for sharing your wisdom with your students AND with your readers!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Will. Where would we be without music to teach the heart and the mind? One of my favorite quotes is from Hans Christian Anderson; “Where words fail, music speaks.” Keep up your work. “Yet” can be a game changer.

  5. Dan Antion says:

    It does add a bit of optimism to everything. I really like the collective attitude on display in your school.

  6. It is a very powerful word that we probably don’t appreciate enough…yet. 🙂 Loved this and I do remember when you were trying to learn to play that song. When you mentioned Gloria being a little different I wondered if you have seen this children’s book written by a blogger that I think is right up your ally. I don’t have anyone to give it to but it fascinates me. Just for your information.

  7. Ritu says:

    We all fully embrace the power of Yet in school here too Jennie! Growth mindset is so Important!!!!!

  8. Opher says:

    I like yet. There’s lots of things I can’t do yet. Yet is so positive. It suggests that all things are possible.

  9. For such a small 3 letter word, the simple meaning of Yet, has a huge impact! 🙂

  10. Norah says:

    This is great, Jennie. I am a great believer in a growth mindset and the power of “yet” thinking also. It’s great to have that thinking accepted school-wide. How wonderful to know the children were ready to step in and help Gloria develop a yet mindset.

  11. Very inspiring Jennie! I love the “power of yet”!

  12. Annika Perry says:

    Jennie, a wonderfully uplifting and moving post! 😀 What amazing positive children and so supportive and caring for each other. They are lucky to have you as a teacher! I love the idea of ‘YET’ and it can definitely be adopted by adults too – I’ll remember next time I think or say ‘I can’t’ – I’ll just add the ‘yet’!! 😀

  13. stevetanham says:

    How beautiful.., thank you for reminding me that there still is that depth of engagement.

  14. Darlene says:

    Such a small word with such a big meaning. great for kids but also for adults.

  15. This is a wonderful post, Jennie! I’m sure all the adults reading it here benefited from it as much as the children. I know I did! Hugs

  16. This is a very unique way of looking at learning, Jennie. You can’t do it “yet”; really good idea. I may try it with some of my work colleagues [smile!]

  17. I use this word a lot-for the same reasons- It helps me use it for myself too ! What a lot of hope it provokes!

  18. reocochran says:

    Great Sesame Street inspiration and you incorporate it so well in your daily lessons. Frustration is something children feel often! I hope you also tell your parents the “Power of Yet!” I liked this a lot!

  19. Such a powerful word indeed, Jennie! Positive thinking needs to be learned at a young age so we don’t fall so easily into the hidden traps laid out by our inner judge in later years. 😊

  20. Wonderful post! Gloria is such a great helper. And I love the chart at the end. The children will feel so proud when they accomplish their goals.

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