I am just entering my second year of teaching and even though kindergarten is the only grade I have taught, I know it is where I am meant to be. There is something so magical and amazing about teaching kindergarten!!
Reflecting on my own experience in kindergarten, I remember how my teacher made me feel comfortable and always managed to make learning fun. She engaged us and let us learn while still letting us be kids. This is a concept that I try to incorporate on a daily basis.
Teaching a kid to be a kid. What a concept! I love the sound of it and I love depth behind it even more. Most of my little rays are five with the exception of two who recently turned six. Plain and simple, I teach CHILDREN. The last thing I want to do is take their childlike experiences away from them. I want them to explore, be adventurous, and silly. I want them to sing and dance and play with each other just like I did when I was in kindergarten.
What I do to keep my little rays excited to learn and remain the children that they are is simple. I teach them how to learn to be a kid. I teach them how to explore mathematics, literature, science, and all other topics with excitement and adventure. I take every opportunity I can to make a lesson an experience.
When whole group reading begins, I could just have my kids sit in their spots on the carpet. Instead of just simply sitting, we sing a song to get our bodies quiet and read to learn. When it is time to line up, I could have the kids line up quietly and leave it at that. To add some fun, once we are in line we giggle as we get those marshmallow toes ready for the hallway! Is it simple to make a transition more fun? YES! I even have kiddos who remind me if I forget! "Wait! Miss K, our toes haven't become marshmallows yet!!" When it is time to dance during our guided movement time, I get on the carpet with them and break out into Pop-See-Ko. I don't do it because I want to (lies: I TOTALLY want to!!) but I do it because I want them to see that it is okay to be silly. It is okay to let loose and be FIVE! They are so worried about getting in trouble or being told that they are doing something wrong that they lose their silliness. I never want to let that happen, rather, I want to ignite their inner child. I want to bring out the eagerness to learn and to grow.
When we started our unit on apples, we didn't have to do apple tasting. We didn't have to make applesauce. We could have stuck with the expectations and learned only about their lifecycle and read a book or two about them. It would be way less work, but would it be enjoyable?? Would my kids walk away from the week and be excited? Would they be talking about it in a few weeks? Nope. By making activities and opportunities for the kinders to explore and learn in multiple ways, they are BOUND to remember it.
In the end, it may not matter to some how their students learned. But to me, what is important is if they enjoyed learning it. If they were challenged, if they were encouraged, and if they were excited. As a kindergarten teacher, I want to make a difference. Not just in teaching my kids academics, but in teaching them what they need to know through being a kid.
It is my wish that every teacher remembers who they teach. CHILDREN. Take the opportunities to go above and beyond a simple lesson.
How is that for some Monday reflection???