People: Eleanora Jadwin: through a child's eyes
Publication Date: Wednesday May 31, 1995

People: Eleanora Jadwin: through a child's eyes

"It's pretty hard to beat having three or four young children running toward you for hugs and kisses and to tell you that they love you." You can bet Eleanora Jadwin has given thousands of hugs, and words of comfort and encouragement to her little charges over the last two decades.

On July 1, after 22 years of working with children under 5, Jadwin will be retiring from her job as program coordinator of the Palo Alto school district's Preschool Family Program at the old Greendell Elementary School. Jadwin started as a teacher in 1973, founded the Young Fives program in 1975 and became program coordinator in 1983. Young Fives is a program for children who are not quite ready for kindergarten.

She'll be leaving, but she will always keep the memories, especially the funny ones.

"You must have a sense of humor around little children," she said smiling as she recalled the day a little girl looked at her earnestly, looked at her white hair, and said, "When my grandmother's hair got white, she died."

Was Jadwin offended? Not in the least.

"(Children) say what they see," she said. "They have no qualms about saying it. They are right up front with how they feel about something."

And that is what she loves about them. Looking at the world through children's eyes, you see things you wouldn't otherwise, she said.

"When they pat a cat or they pat a dog all of their senses are involved, their whole being is involved. To step back and watch them is really amazing."

A little boy in the Young Fives program told her about seeing rain at night. "He wondered if those were tears from the stars."

Jadwin and the 19 teachers at Preschool Family don't expect parents to go it alone. They provide lots of parent education and support.

"Parenting is one of the hardest things you'll ever do your whole life," she said. "One of the greatest resources parents have here is each other."

Not only does she get to see the children change from "crawlers to tippy toddlers to kids that run so fast," but "we get to see the parents grow as well."

With more two-parent working families, single-parent families and other family stresses, there is one thing that is essential to give children, Jadwin said. "More than anything else, what parents need to give young children is time, when they can really, truly listen to their child."

Children also need to be allowed to do things at their own pace, she said. "Young children need time, to go across a field slowly, see the flowers, smell them. Those are the kinds of things that they remember."

They "shouldn't be hurried. So much of what they're doing is process." It may seem strange to watch a child pouring sand through a funnel over and over again, watching it flow into a cone-shaped pile. But, Jadwin said, the child might be experiencing the concept of gravity for the first time. "Something is going on inside. That's the magic and that's the wonder."

After retiring, Jadwin plans to take the opportunity to garden and travel with her husband. Italy is their first stop. "We plan to do a lot of things we've postponed, like reading those books and taking those hikes (we) always wanted to take but never did." But she's going to miss the children, and their teachers.

"My proudest accomplishment at Preschool Family is, it really feels like a village here," she said. "It's just a great sense here of caring."

"These little people are our greatest hope and investment for a more perfect world," Jadwin wrote in a letter to parents. "May you always love and cherish your children."

--Elizabeth Darling
On June 11, Preschool Family will have a goodbye party for Jadwin, and the community is welcome to attend the open house, from noon to 4 p.m. Preschool Family alumni are especially welcome.

@credit:Margaret Kaye "(Children) say what they see. They have no qualms about saying it. They are right up front with how they feel about something. When they pat a cat or they pat a dog all of their senses are involved, their whole being is involved. To step back and watch them is really amazing."

"More than anything else, what parents need to give young children is time, when they can really, truly listen to their child."

"Young children need time, to go across a field slowly, see the flowers, smell them. Those are the kinds of things that they remember. (They) shouldn't be hurried. So much of what they're doing is process." 

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