“Life Begins When You Get Back Up” – a Memorable Day at School

 Music brings joy to children.
Books bring questions and thinking.
Teachers bring love and answers.

Today at school was a day I’ll always remember.  So will the children.  Emotions ran high.  In Dickens’ words, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  It was COVID, overcoming fear, needing to be held, singing and dancing, and reading aloud one of the best children’s books – perfect for the day.

It started in the morning with Eddie.  He just stopped.  He folded his arms, scrunched up his face to keep from crying, and refused to talk.  All the coaxing in the world did nothing to help him talk.  Finally I said, “Eddie, come here” and pulled him onto my lap.  He curled up.

I knew what to do.  He wanted to be rocked.  I remember listening to a song recently on the radio that has a chorus:

“Rock me mama like the wind and the rain, rock me mama like a south bound train.  Hey, mama rock me.”

I rocked Eddie and sang those words, over and over.  Children were swaying and nodding.  They loved the song, because it made them feel good.  It makes me feel good, too.

Sometimes words aren’t needed.  Music is far more powerful to reach the soul, pierce the heart.  I sing spontaneously all the time.

Eddie recovered to his ‘old self’, and the morning returned to normal.  I learned later that the song had lasting effects.

I read a picture book every day to children before lunch.  Today I read “After the Fall.  How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again”, by Dan Santat.  I hadn’t planned to read the book, but I knew this was the perfect book for the day.

On the back cover, the words are, “Life begins when you get back up.”  That’s powerful.  And so I read the story, with Humpty saying, “Some parts couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.”  Yet, he overcame his fears. We stopped to talk about being scared. Children are scared at this time with COVID and feeling very unsettled in their own world.  Yes, they are resilient…but they’re still scared.

I will post a detailed book review soon.

Next was lunch.  Children were talking about the new song.  I could tell that the song was soothing after reading about Humpty Dumpty and how brave he was.  Brave.  That was the word.  A good song can help you to feel brave.  As we listened, Connor suddenly frowned.  He blurted out,

“I want the virus to go away!”

Children are honest, and their words often come out when you least expect it.  I choked back tears.  I had no words at the moment.  I reached across the table to rub his arm.  He understood.  He needed to say that.  I needed to hear that.

“Connor, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

“I want to be a doctor.”

“Will you marry me?”

“I’m gonna marry you and Gloria.”

I played the song (the title is “Wagon Wheel”) and danced with Connor.  He laughed so hard!  Of course all the children wanted to dance with me and be held and twirled around.

I wish every child could be held and twirled to music. 

Then it struck me that we could ‘see’ the song on YouTube.  We did!  So, after lunch, which was completely chaotic (thanks to me), it took a while to get back to our routine.  I wouldn’t have changed a minute of all that happened today – we faced fears and anger, we talked about COVID, we loved each other deeply, we found joy and comfort in music and a great book.  We are a family.


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 Book Review, books, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, music, picture books, preschool, reading aloud, reading aloud, School, Singing, The Arts and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

91 Responses to “Life Begins When You Get Back Up” – a Memorable Day at School

  1. Norah says:

    Beautiful, Jennie. I was there with you as I read your moving post. I didn’t know either the song or the book, but now I do. What a gift. I must find a copy of the book. Thank you.

  2. barbtaub says:

    Made me cry. Again.

  3. TalkToGood says:

    I miss my school day but you don’t miss this 👇


  4. abhiwriter21 says:

    Great writing. I agree children bring happiness and joy
    Hope to see more writings from u

  5. beetleypete says:

    Just wonderful. The Aqua Room children are the luckiest little ones I know.
    Because they have you.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  6. beth says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this- beautiful

  7. Dan Antion says:

    This made me feel so sad and then so good, Jennie. I love that song and it does make me feel good.

  8. That was incredibly touching. I am in tears. Your students are blessed to have you in their lives. ❤️

  9. I love that you were able to have this moment. One of the reasons I stepped out of the classroom for this time is the concern that I would not be able to comfort my students. How does one teach the youngest children from 6′ away? They need that comfort, that continuity of care. They need to know that teachers care and love. That isn’t about knowing the right answer, but finding the right way. I’m off to find this book as I needed a book for my blog today and I think this might be the perfect one!

  10. Pingback: After the Fall – My Day in Pre-K

  11. Lokesh Sastya says:

    I listen music when I feel sad.

  12. Of course children are sensitive to the fear and anxiety around them. Some are directly impacted when their parents lose their jobs or businesses. It is a scary time. OUr children will prevail but they will be changed by this difficult time. A great post, Jennie.

  13. Ritu says:

    Well I know another book that is going on my Amazon list!
    I think we will have a lot of this from the 8th March, as our children come back to school, Jennie.
    You handled it beautifully ❤

  14. quiall says:

    Sometimes we all need to step out of our comfort zone, to step off the tracks and to twirl and to sing with wild abandon and throw up our arms and fall down. Children are just smart enough to recognize that first.

  15. Oh what a beautiful day! ❤ Thanks for sharing… Hugs to all!

  16. You did the right thing, Jennie. “Rock on.”

  17. Beautiful Story, Jennie. It falls right into your philosophy of grabbing the teaching moment. 😁

  18. Another wonderful and poignant day in the Aqua Room! I needed a tissue. I love that song too. When it comes on the radio I turn it up and dance…well a little as I’m usually in the car listening to the radio. 😀

  19. Darlene says:

    I think we all could use a cuddle and a song right now. Thanks for being there for the children. XO

  20. Jennie, thank you for this wonderful post. And that song — what a bonus! I had not heard it, but i love it. Hugs on the wing.

    • Jennie says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, the song. I’ve heard it a few times on the radio, and it has grabbed me. It was perfect for the moment. Music is powerful. Hugs!

    • Jennie says:

      I’m. So. Glad. I did, too. As soon as I got home yesterday I was pounding the keys to write this story. I still have the song stuck in my head (thank goodness), and children wanted to hear it again today. I found a YouTube video of fiddlers, because there’s a strong fiddle presence in the song, AND, Pa plays the fiddle in our current chapter reading book, “Little House in the Big Woods.” The children loved it! See how everything seems to be connected?

  21. frenchc1955 says:

    Hi Jennie, this is beautiful and very important. This is a lesson not only for children but also for adults. Thank you so much!

  22. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is a beautiful post from that extraordinary teacher, Jennie!

  23. petespringerauthor says:

    Great story, Jennie! You’ve got to share the spotlight with Gloria, but I’ll bet you’re fine with that. I always told my students if they were ever upset and needed a hug, they could always come to me. Suddenly, everyone was upset. (code for “I need a hug.”)

  24. There should be more people (and teachers) like you in this world, Jennie!

  25. Darius Rucker… one of the wonders of the music world! What a warm, lovely post for these times! Thank you for being saint AND psychologist! 🙂

    • Jennie says:

      He is a music wonder. My assistant teacher told me he was the lead singer for Hootie and the Blowfish. Wow! I loved that group. So now it’s been three days, and this song has stuck with the children. They ask for it every day at lunch, and when they wake up from rest. There’s more! Our current chapter reading book is “Little House in the Big Woods”, and Pa plays the fiddle. The predominant instrument in the song is the fiddle! See how things connect and get better? Of course we watched fiddle players on YouTube, and then went back to the song. It was perfect! Thank you, KC. 🙂

  26. CarolCooks2 says:

    Oh, Jennie …I am snuffling… those children will remember you forever they are so lucky …Hugs xx

  27. Kavi Arasu says:

    I love the innocence of the children and miss the days when I used to play with my friends.

  28. A. L. Kaplan says:

    Reblogged this on alkaplan and commented:
    Kids and Covid

  29. I can promise you my DIL handled a situation much like this very differently. I had to walk away. That is why you are a hero to me. You touch the child part in all of us who were not treated as kindly as you did that sweet child who’d had enough of the day. Just a moment of love and you turned his day and everyone else’s around. Bless you Jennie from the deepest part of me for all the children you touch with so much love.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much for your wonderful words, Marlene! Honestly, every small moment like that one can be a big thing for a child. It must have been heartbreaking for you to see your DIL handle things differently. Moments of love make the difference. Much love to you! 💕

  30. This is so lovely, Jennie.

  31. Kara Aharon says:

    Thanks for recommending this book. What a wonderful message.

  32. So very heart touching, Jennie! Thank you for mentioning the book, and the song. The were new to me. if I’d had you as a teacher, I’d miss school a little more too. 🙂 Michael

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