Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Day in Kindergarten

Kindergarten is a key time in a child’s life, full of exploration and rapid learning.  Kids at this age are very eager to learn. There are numerous types of learning opportunities taking place in our room.  The students learn to read and add, but they also learn so much more like independence and how to interact with peers.  They have to unpack on their own and then pack back up at the end of the day.  They have to make sure they don’t forget things like their folders and water bottles.  They have to learn to work independently and solve their non-emergency issues without me, when the class stop light lamp is on.  They learn when to tattle and when to keep it to themselves. They learn to cooperate with all the kids in our room and how to sit at circle time and listen. 
Kindergarten at CDS is like none other.  The students are studious and the parents, well… they can’t get any better.  All parents in our class are supportive and stay involved.  We are fortunate to have a small class and a shortened day.  A small class and shortened day makes for busy students with lots of individualized learning. 
So the question is, how do you fit it all in?  Below is a brief look into a day in the life of a kindergarten student at CDS:
8:55 to around 9:20 – Students enter the classroom and unpack. There is always morning work on their desk.  It ranges from handwriting practice, math review to journal writing. Often it involves working on specific skills we are concentrating on that week. I also use this time to pull students who are working their way through the Bob series reading books and to catch up any students that have been absent or need to finish up prior assignments.
9:20 to around 10 is Circle Time – Pledge, calendar time (today is.., weather, months of the year, days of the week; counting the number of days we’ve been in school, etc.), whole group reading; sight word, phonics games; vocabulary and basal reading story.  Sometimes we sneak in some math here too! And of course we share anything fabulous that has happened to us over the last 24 hours, and you can be sure that a 5 year old has one interesting life.  J
10 to 10:30 – After all this time learning, we all need a little social time.  At this time we do a combined snack and recess.  If it’s nice weather, we enjoy our snacks outside under the sunshine!
10:30 to 11:15 is Reading Groups – At this time, everyone does something different.  Our class is full of readers on different levels. Currently, I have 4 different groups to rotate through during this time.  We work on appropriate levels for each group.  For example, I have one group who does upper first grade work, one group on upper kindergarten, one on kindergarten and one on alphabet letter/ sound review.  Groups are constantly changing, because, when it clicks, it clicks! Science and Social Studies are also incorporated during reading groups.  For example, if we are studying animal habitats or adaptations in Science, we read non-fiction animal books pertaining to this subject.  Each child just finished researching an animal of their choice and wrote a paragraph full of facts they learned.  This week each child has picked another animal to research, with my assistance, and are creating a flip-book.
11:15 to noon is Math – During this time we do whole group and small group pull out.  We have hands-on math-centers that the kids rotate through.  We often incorporate and reinforce reading and writing in math also.
Noon to 12:45 – We play catch up, and then we enjoy our lunch! 
Different days also brings different pull outs. We have library, art, music and Bible Buddies once a week.  Pull outs occur between 10:30-12:15 each day.  We also have a reading resource teacher who pulls students out during reading group times three times a week.
Whew… and that’s how we get it all in. I think all the parents will agree that we don’t leave anything behind. We learn, learn and learn some more.  We aren’t always at the table with our pencils.  You can find us lying on the rug doing writing assignments with our clipboards, or on the floor playing games. Often you might look in and see us using the iPad for research or drawing pictures in our journals to illustrate our vocabulary or popcorn words.  Learning in kindergarten is different than any other academic stage.  In kindergarten, you determine what type of learner you are, and we incorporate each style of learning, each day, in some way.  Some kids learn best by listening, some need to see it, and some need to put it on paper. We work hard every day to figure out what that style is!
I wasn’t always a kindergarten teacher.  I previously taught 3rd, 4th and 5th grade.  In the past, I would publicly state I loved 3rd grade.  However, if you ask me now…. I love Kindergarten!  The students love you, they respect you, and they are always seeking more knowledge!  I love everything about teaching a kid to read and being the one that gets to send that email or text saying, “They read their first book today!”.  I love when something first clicks for them and they get so excited!  The students are kind and I never tire of the high-fives and daily hugs.  I also love the stories I hear each day and how their innocence still shows.  And most of all, I love that I can teach each child on their own level. 
-Tammy (Kindergarten Teacher)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

How to Prepare Your Child for Preschool

We have been giving lots of tours around CDS for next school year, and so many parents have been asking what they should be working on with their child to prepare them for preschool. Many parents are purchasing workbooks and flashcards to make sure their child knows their letters, number, shapes, colors, and even trying to teach them to read!! While we are super impressed with how motivated these parents are to “prepare” their child for preschool, we have our own list of things we would rather parents be working on.

~Encourage independence. Simple things like teaching your child to hang their coat on a hook or opening their lunches is SO helpful to us!! Practice at home by packing their lunch once a week in a lunch box and when it’s time to eat, show them how to open everything. It may sound silly but when you have a class of 14 children and two adults, it makes things so much easier when children know these simple skills J.

~Plan play dates! If your child is not normally around other children their age, make time before school starts to introduce them to some new friends and allow them to experience having to share, cooperating with playmates, and even clean up at the end of the play date. It’s amazing how much your child can learn while you sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend!

~Read to your child!!! This is so important, I should say it again. READ TO YOUR CHILD!!! There are so many benefits to reading to your child daily when they are young, but really, who doesn’t love that 15 minutes of snuggle time with your precious little one each night?!

Well, that’s it. It’s a short list but very important. Have fun and enjoy this time. We are so looking forward to having the opportunity to teach and love your child and working with you to make sure they have everything they need to be successful!


Friday, January 10, 2014

A Small Glimpse of our Day

It's that time of year for lots of new parents to be touring our facility along with their notebooks full of questions. When I'm giving a tour, I often think about how hard it must be for these parents to know what is the right decision. I know me, and I know how passionate I am about teaching, and how much I absolutely love the children in our program, but how do these moms and dads know that? How difficult it must be for them to leave their sweet little kiddos with strangers. I wish I could show all the moms and dads out there what I get to see on a daily basis "behind the scenes". I wish I could show parents how Miss Veronnica can't help with pick up line because she's busy hugging and holding one of her students that needs a little extra attention that day. I wish I could show parents how Mrs. Rogers cheers and claps when a child masters a skill they have been working on. I wish I could show parents how Miss Jane dances with her class (I'm sure she's glad I can't show parents this :). I wish I could show parents how long Miss Michelle sits in front of the computer making the "perfect" worksheet to teach a simple skill. I wish I could show parents how hard Miss Kalyn works to keep the classroom clean and safe for the students in her class. I wish I could show parents how Miss Tammy agonizes over her lesson plans because she wants to provide her students with the BEST kindergarten education (which by the way, she does.) I wish I could show parents how Miss Shelley talks so sweetly to her class and how much those precious, little two year olds love her. I wish I could show parents how Miss Caroline runs around the school each day obsessively making sure everything is running exactly how it should be. And I wish I could show parents my notebooks full of idea and plans for our school and my dreams of what it will become one day. I wish all parents could get a glimpse of what goes into our school day. The loving, hugging, cheering, clapping, dancing, teaching, cleaning, playing, laughing fun that we get to have each and every day.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year, New Space

We are so thrilled to be back in the groove of things after a long break. Like the beginning of each school year, I LOVE the first of the New Year. The possibilities that the New Year hold are so exciting and this year will be extra exciting for us here at Coastal Day School! Over break we received a phone call that our neighbors will be relocating their business and we can take over their space. This is something we have been praying for and we are so thankful that it’s happening. Of course, I went straight into planning mode and made new Pinterest boards with all my favorite d├ęcor and furnitureJ! The new space will allow us to add two new classrooms, an office, and relocate our library. We will be getting our keys on February 1st so check back for our “before” photos and follow us as we start our journey of renovating (one of my favorite things to do!!) Best wishes for the New Year!!