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)

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