Kim Barnes, Head of Early Childhood writes about her recent observations in pre-k and kindergarten.
“Hola, buenos días ¿cómo estás?”
“Bien, gracias. ¿Y Usted?”
Maestra greeted each child at the door, expecting eye contact and a hand shake. A surprising comment from Maestra came as a child did not make contact – “What? You do not like me? Is that why you do not look into my eyes?” Startled by the comment, the child looked up to make eye contact and with a smile gave an answer to Maestra.
The kindergartner came running up the sidewalk and grabbed my hand. “You have to come see this.” After a quick trip around the patio and through the muddy grass, the child declared, “Do you see that? It’s a leaf. We planted seeds there and that is the first one to grow. See those we planted those from our classroom. That one is mine. It was four inches tall when I planted it.”
The pre-kindergartners were busy setting out their lunches. One child spilled something and others quickly came to the aid of that child. Another child observed my interest and stated, “It is always important to help someone who is having trouble with something. That’s using your manners.”
The pre-k girls were overjoyed to share their observations of the snails. “This one,” as they explained, “fell and we had to put a band aid on his shell.” “Watch this one. He is going to go across this circus. We just have to keep spraying him. We know he is going to make it.”
The kindergarten teacher moved from table to table and then to the floor, just checking in to see how things were going, to make a comment, to listen to a story. Confidence exuded from each child. The sixteen children were focused on the job he or she and their partner were assigned at that moment in the rotation, which included a variety of small motor tasks, current project needs, and math games. Towards the end of the rotation, a book on disk was added as the teacher shared the book with this group of learners and many, even with just five weeks of kindergarten under their belts, had learned to balance work and attention to the story.
The combined voices of the ninety-two children brought one teacher to tears as she became the recipient of a friendly shoulder hug from a nearby teacher. After the song, the teacher quietly said, “The voices of children move me to tears, their voices are just so beautiful.”
The playground was bustling with cooperation. The children didn’t have to know one another; they just needed to have the same goal in mind, such as water flowing from the water table to the stream, a trip around the bike path, a sand creation, a deep hole that needed to grow deeper, climbing high to the top of the Explorer Dome, a how-to discussion on how to get to the sling swing, or simply standing up and settling one another after sitting in the spinner. Teachers were always watching and moving and keeping an eye on things and listening to the sound of children learning but never interfering as the children went about their business of constructing knowledge and meaning.
Constructing knowledge and meaning of their world through models, cooperation, collaboration, and trust is key to the lives of these young children, never a dull moment. Join us for a time and recreate a tiny part of your world or just leave with a smile.