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Day Care Diary vol. 1: The Plan

For those of you who didn’t know, I am currently doing “gym classes” two times a week at the Day Care that used to be at St. Dennis (now in Warren). I do eight 20-minute classes every Tuesday and Thursday with groups of anywhere from 2-9 three and four year olds. Yesterday was the end of my third week. So far, it has been one of the best learning experiences of my coaching career. I’ll definitely be sharing more as the year progresses, but I figured I’d give you guys some insight on what’s been going on.


So for the first time in as long as my memory serves me, I planned ahead. It went against everything I’ve ever told people, but I really felt like it was necessary this time around. First off, I was getting paid. Secondly, it had been awhile since I coached “the babies” – we didn’t have their group this Summer. Thirdly, I just figured I’d give this planning thing a try once and for all, and it was simple; base it off Fundamentals. Teach the hollow rock (all balled-up like), do a push-up with hands backwards, then jumping with foam between the feet, and finally let them run and maybe mesh it all into a workout kind of thing.

And then I walked into the room – which I came to find was about half the size of our loft.

And then the kids came in.

Immediately they began running around and jumping on the three mats I had out – all laughing hysterically.  So I attempted to corral the kids and have them ball up in a hollow rock, but they kept trying to run around. Same thing happened when I tried to switch gears to jumping with foam. I remember thinking it’s probably just a bad group. Then when the next group of six came in they did the exact same thing: frantic running and uncontrolled laughter. It was then I realized what “three years old” meant.

Champions Club "babies" - aka not three year olds

It took me one more session to figure out my new game plan: watch and learn. Now, the first five minutes of “class” are dedicated to stepping back and letting the kids do their thing. The less structure the better. And this brings me to the most important thing I’ve realized so far: I have learned ten times more in these three weeks than the kids have. Today, for instance, I learned:

  1. Sharing is not possible at this stage
  2. Shoes either stay on the whole time or stay off the whole time. Nothing in the middle.
  3. Kicking works better than throwing.
  4. Six kids in a session is ideal – this allows for “roughhousing” that doesn’t cascade into the mob beatings that happen in a session of nine.
  5. Fire alarms should not be low to the ground – or anywhere in the eyesight of Johnathan.

I think the role of a teacher or coach is to learn from the students, not to teach them. They figure things out; I observe how and why they do it. Where I might play a role is I can set a very broad standard that might expose something I want to know about how they can complete a movement, activity, or a game. That’s the extent of the game plan, but it’s all improvised on the spot – which is how I’m used to operating. And now that I actually have an idea of what I'm supposed to be doing there, let the real learning begin!

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Reader Comments (4)

I like your humility. Let them teach you, perhaps the sign of a good teacher? I heard a quote by another biologist, "it's not what we cover, it's what we uncover." I suspect 3 years old may be a more active version of the moms club.

October 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMama V

It's exactly like teaching the Mommies. Except they are infinitely flexible

October 10, 2014 | Registered CommenterChris Sinagoga

This gives me some really useful insight and I am definitely surprised by your post. Nice.

October 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPudge

Ahahaha....Kids are so fun...:)

October 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSabal

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