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How You Bring on ‘A Hallelujah Kind of Childhood’
September 18, 2023
Children should believe they can soar. Always. Period. Hallelujah!
-Deborah Bergeron, National Head Start Association

Strikingly, when we shared Bev Bos’ idea of a “hallelujah kind of childhood” last week, your comments leapt boldly from the screen. Many of you couldn’t help but add all-caps to the words JOY and Hallelujah! Here are a few of your remarks—a longer post than usual so we can soak up what you had to say:

Dr. Deborah Bergeron shared, “So funny reading this today. Yesterday I was reflecting on my love of music and the pure JOY and Hallelujah I felt as a child learning to play the piano. I have a vivid memory when I was about 8 years old overhearing my piano teacher tell my mother that I did not have a 'knack' for music. Although that memory doesn't really make me feel pain, per se, and that comment did NOT keep me from continuing to play and find JOY in music, but the fact that I remember it so vividly decades later indicates it stuck with me. The heart, indeed, has a long memory for pain. I often wonder what kind of musician I might have become had I not overheard that comment. To this day, I call myself a 'moderate' musician (which I really believe I am) despite the pure JOY I get from music. I wonder if I hadn't had that limit put on me at such a young age if I might have had a different experience moving forward. Children should believe they can soar. Always. Period. Hallelujah!"

That Early Childhood Nerd Heather Bernt-Santy offered reflections from her blog after Bev Bos’ passing in 2016, in part: “Hallelujah childhoods don’t come from structure, rules or cute Pinterest crafts. They come from relationships. Protecting the right to a hallelujah kind of childhood demands that we go further than the ‘liking kids’ that got our foot in the door. We have to know, trust and delight in every single child in our care. And they need to know it.” (Be sure to read the whole post!)

Cheryl Smith affirms this, “I feel the teacher's JOY is the most influential aspect in the lesson plan that insures joy in the children! Joyous teachers who Love children and their job create Joyful classrooms! It's that simple. With experience, teachers learn to relax and feel the joy but early in careers they can be helped over the stress and find the joy that the children all have to show. Joyful mentors can help in that early experience with teachers.”

Paula Reese remarked, in part, “…A "hallelujah" kind of childhood gets an ‘Amen’ for all of the books from Dr. Seuss, Brown BearRainbow Fish and the all-time favorite, Where the Wild Thinks Are! …So much joy and my heart is full because I know and feel the love from the former five year old's hearts!! To create this environment full of hallelujah and joy, have the best relationships with the children and their families, an environment full of love and learning! Greet the children (and families), sing with them, teach them nursery rhymes, read and allow them opportunities for hands on learning! Talk, read and sing, allow them a safe space for questions, time to laugh and be silly, a time to be a child!”

Dave J. adds, “They need to have a childhood like I had - playing outdoors, Tag, Hide & Seek, etc.  They need to be able to play in a large area with other kids.  They need to have the ability to play without worry, without fear, and with joy, with happiness, and with freedom.”

Terri Kosik finds ways to add, “unexpected ‘pop-up’ surprises that share joyful activities  …simple, play-based, community-based activities …bubbles on a Friday afternoon… an unexpected picnic on a sunny day with fresh fruit and books or during inclement weather an indoor picnic with friends, a puppet friend visits and brings something interesting to explore, for example a bird nest, pumpkins, gourds and sunflowers, or plants to explore with magnifying glasses.  These rich, hands-on and unexpected engagements add sparkle with simple yet joyful experiences.”

Bernt-Santy concludes, “I’ll say it again, because the words thrill me to my very soul: WE MUST PROTECT THE RIGHT OF ALL CHILDREN TO HAVE A HALLELUJAH KIND OF CHILDHOOD.”

P.S. Frequent Exchange contributor Lois Ingellis remarked, “I just want to say how much I appreciate that you are looking through the archives and finding these words of wisdom from the past to put out to the next generation of teachers who may not have known Bev Bos, Betty Jones, Vivian Gussin Paley.  And we don't have to wait till they pass to highlight their wisdom.  It is much needed grounding from those who've been there for many years.”

Thanks, Lois!


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Comments (3)

Displaying All 3 Comments
Kirsten Haugen · September 19, 2023
Eugene, OR, United States

Kim, your comments made me smile and energized my day. Francis, AMEN.

kim overton · September 18, 2023
San Mateo, CA, United States

Oh my goodness! I love seeing all the additional comments on Bev Bos’ hallelujah kind of childhood. They warm my heart, they kindle my soul, and they help me remember all the joys of caring for young children. Now how to work for all children to have this joy, these relationships, surprises, kindness, challenges, nature, cooking, singing, and play!

Francis Wardle · September 18, 2023
University of Phoenix/ Red Rocks Community College
Denver, Colorado, United States

My hallelujah moments in early childhood were paddling barefoot in an ice-cold mountain stream, singing songs from around the world with 200 people from different backgrounds and ages, collecting beautiful brown eggs from the farm's hen houses, and smelling the sweet smell of newly exposed wood in Harry's carpentry shop. We must be very diligent to make sure children on IEPs, IFSPs, management plans, and other intervention protocols have equal access to these hallelujah moments. They cannot be excluded from them for therapy and other early intervention activities.

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