When I first started volunteering at my local YMCA, I figured it was an easy way to round up some community service hours during the summer. Little did I know it would eventually lead to me to a job that I love and has taught me so much. Being a gymnastics instructor/ summer camp counselor at the Y has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. As like any other job, there are certainly good days and bad days. Working with children is not easy. But, it has taught me many things about myself and what kind of person it takes to work with kids.
Patience. Let's be honest, some kids will just make you want to scream and pull your hair out. I have dealt with a range of children, some with behavioral issues, and some with special needs. Every child is not the same. Especially in instructional settings like where I work, not every child learns the same way. I have learned that patience is key, and in order to establish a good connection with the kids, you just have to be willing to take the hard stuff with a smile. Some days you just have to take a deep breath and be as tolerant as possible. I have gained so much more patience in general after working with kids for the last two years.
Versatility + Creativity. Kids are unpredictable. One second they can be happy as ever and the next they can be crying uncontrollably. I see it happen all the time, especially with the young ones. Thankfully, I have learned to quickly adapt to any situation or problem. You have to be ready for anything to happen, any emotion to come out of nowhere. I once worked a birthday party where the kids in my group were very disengaged and not following directions. Clearly, I needed a new approach so I ended up turning my lesson into a game which required everyone to listen and pay attention. The kids were much more engaged and had a great time.
Laughter + Positivity. When it comes to children, they have no filter. Their brutal honesty makes for some hilarious conversations. They will not hesitate to hold back their opinion and tell it how it really is. One of my kids once asked me if I had brushed my teeth that morning because they were looking yellow. All I could do was laugh. It showed myself and the kids that it's okay to just take a moment and laugh at yourself and with others. Sometimes the kids just need to see someone else showing a bit of positivity and they will do the same. Being a role model for these children, I owe it to them to shine a bit of light on their day. And in return, it makes my days easier and happier. Now whenever I find myself faced with a challenge, I try to tackle it with a bit of positivity.
Working with children has taught me a little bit more about self-control, discipline, and my outlook on life, and more. There are plenty of other lessons I have learned but these are just a quick few. My kids always seem to look on the brighter side of life, no matter what life may be throwing at them. I am so grateful for each and every one of them, for they are the ones teaching me just as much as I am supposed to be teaching them.