BEHIND THE PLAYDOUGH CURTAIN: A Year in My Life as a Preschool Teacher by Patti Greenberg Wollman

BEHIND THE PLAYDOUGH CURTAIN: A Year in My Life as a Preschool Teacher

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An endearing and lively account of what one teacher encountered in a year with a private nursery school ""class from hell"" on Manhattan's educationally progressive Upper West Side. A preschool teacher for 20 years, Wollman had decided to keep a detailed journal of a recent school year before she knew that her class of 13 three- and four-year-olds would have more than its share of problems. True, there was an unusual number of unruly and immature children (one youngster was still in diapers). But affecting the behavior of the class even more was a procession of tragic events, including deaths and illnesses in almost every child's family, putting extraordinary demands on Wollman and her assistant, Cathy. For, as Wollman says, ""preschool teachers do a lot more than play games and bandage scraped knees."" They socialize and civilize, give the children a safe place to learn how to identify emotions and express them verbally, and work (carefully) with parents to detect and correct problems. The children come to life: Harris, who struggles to overcome the scars left by a babysitter who hit and screamed at him; Jeremy, who's blaming himself for the baby sibling who died at birth; Sharon, who had a difficult ear operation early in the school year; and the other ten enchanting, frustrating, bright youngsters (names are changed). Though Wollman is often exhausted, troubled, and challenged by her charges, nevertheless, year's end finds the class and its teachers a tightly knit, productive group and the parents rightly grateful to have found a nurturing haven for their children. Wollman writes, ""[We] felt victorious...We had enriched the lives of thirteen families who would never be the same."" A year's adventures in the world of collage, cubbies, and time-out, told with wit and humanity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Scribners