I’ll never forget my first day at preschool. I said a tearful goodbye to my mom and was left alone, terrified, and praying for pickup time.
But as the tears poured down my cheeks, my new preschool teacher took my hand and led me to the play area—I was smitten by her big smile, and by the end of the day I didn’t want to leave.
Fast-forward (I won’t say how many years), and there I was dropping off my own child on her first day of preschool. There were tears (from both sides) but I was confident that as soon as I left she’d fall in love with her new preschool teacher, just as I had… and I was right.
When I saw my daughter’s smile as I picked her up from preschool that day, it occurred to me—there’s a lot to learn from the magic of a great preschool teacher.
Today, I’m fortunate to work in a space where I continue to be influenced and inspired by some of the world’s best and brightest early learning heroes. And although there’s still much work to be done in order to ensure pre-K professionals get the support and fair treatment they deserve, I’m grateful for the lessons they’ve taught me both then and now.
Here are just a few of the many business lessons, I could’ve only learned from a preschool teacher.
Every ECE pro knows play is crucial to learning.
But it’s not just kids who need time for play.
According to Dr. Stuart Brown, Founder and President at the National Institute for Play, adults need play time too: “The wiring of the brain to respond to play signaling occurs throughout life… Human play produces a whole array of benefits: faster learning, more resiliency, a sense of belonging to your social group, etc.,” he explained in an interview with The Naked Scientists.
With so many tangible benefits, it’s clear play is important no matter how old you are.
“It's very possible to build play into the work environment. It's very possible for an individual to recognize that they need it, and for them to find something in their day that gives them a sense of freedom and a sense of fun,” says Dr. Brown.
And it’s not just Brown who believes in the power of play at work. Many big brands, like Google and Disney for example, encourage play as a way to inspire employees and boost organizational innovation.
For example, Google’s 20% rule encourages workers to spend up to 20% of their time playing around with projects that have no financial promise in the hopes that, in some lightning-strike moment, they may come across something truly innovative.
The outcome? Satisfied employees who are always on the lookout for ways to improve, and have fun while doing it.
I loved my preschool teachers a lot. I’d hang on their every word, and at the end of the day I’d rush home to tell my mom how great they were.
That sort of sticky-hugs-and-kisses adoration probably won’t fly in the workplace—but there’s definitely a lot to learn from how preschool teachers build strong relationships with the children they care for.
Preschool teachers are experts in showing children they’ve got their backs—and ECE leaders can follow some simple rules to build the same connection with their employees, families and wider community.
Here’s how to show your community that you’re one big family:
Consistency is key to helping children feel secure—and the same goes for employees in the workplace.
Just as a preschool teacher begins the day with a set routine and curriculum, it’s important to provide a structured business and communication framework to help bring out the best in your team.
Here’s how to create a culture of trust in a world that’s anything but stable:
As a tech entrepreneur and someone privileged to be a small part of today’s ECE community, I’ve spent the last few years intentionally weaving the preschool teacher magic into my business.
From prioritizing play to focusing on consistency, there are a ton of lessons to be learned from these everyday heroes—and they all lead to stronger relationships, improved employee-employer respect, and an unrivaled culture of care.
No matter what happens in the world, or in your business, you can apply the principles of a stellar preschool teacher for a stronger, more empathetic approach in how you react—because perhaps more often than we think, we all need a sprinkle of that special preschool teacher magic. ✨