Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Caring is lesson No. 1, says nursery teacher

'Miss Wendy' has tips for youngsters, parents

  • Print

If you're feeling a little frightened about your future -- or are just worried you won't be able to find the bathroom -- Miss Wendy has some advice for you.

If someone is singing, it's time to pay attention. If you feel afraid, go to your cubby and visit your teddy. Fighting is not a good thing. Sharing is.

Wendy Challis has been a teacher for 31 years, the past 15 as a nursery school teacher at Robertson School. She sees her job as preparing her three- and four-year-olds for Grade 1. In a sense, she's also preparing them for life.

"They learn that caring for others, first of all, and caring for yourself is very important. If we're walking down the hallway we hold hands. If one person is crying we stop and help."

Challis teaches all her young charges that every person has a special skill.

"I tell them they're all bringing their own personal gift. Every child in the room has a gift. They can learn from each other. Maybe you are good with blocks, maybe it's blending colours. Some are good at organizing games, others are good at cleanup.

"We learn how, as a family, aren't we lucky to have so many gifts? We clap and cheer. Look at how well this person has done something!"

Her involvement with her students begins long before they set foot in her classroom. Challis arrives at their homes to meet the kids, their parents and, sometimes, their grandparents. She brings a yellow bag filled with everything from a deck of cards to a pair of scissors. A laminated sheet has the child's name on it so they can practise their letters.

"I talk to the children about school. I ask them what they want to learn about. Maybe it's animals. Sometimes they want to learn about snow.

"They want to know where they will go to the bathroom. They want to know why they need a new pair of runners."

Many of her students are new Canadians. In fact, "Miss Wendy" was named by a little boy from Hong Kong. His mother taught him it was a polite reference. Soon the rest of the class adopted the name. From there, it spread through the school.

She admits the parents are often more apprehensive than the tots. They have questions about speech development, toilet training, food allergies and any number of other concerns.

"I'm doing a lot of reassuring," she says.

The biggest worry for most family members is how to handle the first farewell. Those of us who clutched a tree and sobbed when a child walked into a school solo understand the need for support.

Challis breaks it to them gently. There are a couple of days of the parents coming into the classroom, staying and playing for a while. The teddy bears and other lovies stay in the locker but can be visited.

She recommends a child bring along a sweater, scarf or jacket that smells like mom. Again, if they feel overwhelmed, it's a reminder of security. Challis also suggests children carry a little hairbrush, a rock, a candle or some sort of other totem in their pocket.

Then she offers advice to the parents.

"You know you really need to allow your feelings to be. Call your mother, call your best friend, go to Tim's. It's not always an easy step for a parent."

Parents are told to bring a granola bar or a juice box at the end of the first few days, something for the child to look forward to.

They're also warned that by Day 5 or so, their child may be more interested in staying on the play structure than heading to mom or dad.

"That's when I start introducing the parents to one another. They can talk to one another, share stories. That really helped the parents."

But the biggest lesson is that caring for others makes life a lot easier in the long run.

"You must be patient with them. Some of them are learning to share for the first time. They have to share me as well.

"But it's pretty simple. It's all very simple. Take care of one another. That's the most important thing."


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 4, 2010 A8

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Buff's not in the mood for chitchat

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A goose comes in for a landing Thursday morning through heavy fog on near Hyw 59 just north of Winnipeg - Day 17 Of Joe Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge - May 24, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A female Mallard duck leads a group of duckings on a morning swim through the reflections in the Assiniboine River at The Forks Monday.     (WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Winnipeg Free Press  June 18 2012

View More Gallery Photos

About Lindor Reynolds

National Newspaper Award winner Lindor Reynolds began work at the Free Press as a 17-year-old proofreader. It was a rough introduction to the news business.

Many years later, armed with a university education and a portfolio of published work, she was hired as a Free Press columnist. During her 20-plus years on the job she wrote for every section in the paper, with the exception of Business -- though she joked she'd get around to them some day.

Sadly, that day will never come. Lindor died in October 2014 after a 15-month battle with brain cancer.

Lindor received considerable recognition for her writing. Her awards include the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ general interest award and the North American Travel Journalists Association top prize.

Her work on Internet luring led to an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada and her coverage of the child welfare system prompted a change to Manitoba Child and Family Services Act to make the safety of children paramount.

She earned three citations of merit for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism and was awarded a Distinguished Alumni commendation from the University of Winnipeg. Lindor was also named a YMCA/YWCA  Woman of Distinction.

Reynolds was 56. She is survived by a husband, mother, a daughter and son-in-law and three stepdaughters.

The Free Press has published an ebook celebrating the best of Lindor's work. It's available in the Winnipeg Free Press Store; all proceeds will be donated through our Miracle on Mountain charity to the Christmas Cheer Board.


Do you think the Jets will win Game 4 on Wednesday?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google