A bunch of you have asked, so here’s the update: kindergarten is great.
When I facebooked that picture from the first day of class, several friends observed: as kindergarten classroom decor goes, that there is a good classroom.
I haven’t blogged about it because it just feels like bragging. Our teacher plays Woody Guthrie songs on her guitar in class. She shares our values. She is experienced but not burnt out. She is a model of clarity and joy.
Here’s just one example of what I’m loving: the school’s PTA helped buy a half-dozen ipads for each kindergarten class (our public school is rich in resources.) The teacher asked parents to help recommend educational apps (there’s admirable communication & mutual helpfulness). But then she added that she doesn’t use technology much right now: she thinks it’s most important for kids in kindergarten to learn to interact with real human beings, to sit in a circle, listen to each other, hold a pencil, sing a song. You see? Pretty much perfect.
Even the tiny glitches aren’t really glitchy. Glitch one: Soph is ahead of the curve academically, so she’s sometimes bored in class. I told her she can always color or tell herself a story. I’m pretty sure this is going to be good for her confidence — and I’m also confident that the teacher tends to design activities to help everyone learn at varied levels.
No parent volunteers were allowed for the first month, to help the kindergarteners get comfortable. (Our school is smart.) So now that it’s the second month, I volunteered in the classroom (aka spied). The teacher asked me to lead a game of rhyming bingo, while others rotated through different small-group activities of writing, coloring, other literacy. There were five adult aides in the classroom to help the 21 students with their small-group work. It’s not just a richness of resources, but also pretty good choices about how to spend its money and volunteer-time.
There was a huge range of abilities in Soph’s class. That’s glitch two, I guess: but it’s not really a glitch — and it is why our teacher has gotten extra aides. We support public schools because we support diversity. Four students in Soph’s class are English-language-learners. In bingo, they learned vocabulary. The rest got to learn what rhyming means, which is an important skill for picking up phonics & literacy. Those, like Soph, who already know rhyming still got to reinforce their skills, play a fun game, and help others. What most impressed me was that everyone was kind to each other. The kids didn’t seem to know that bingo might be competitive.
“Stool,” I called out. “Stool rhymes with chair!” exclaimed a boy. No, not quite, I told him, that would be chool. Let’s try to say what stool rhymes with. “Pool! You have a pool on your card,” a second kid told a third.
And so it went: a good classroom atmosphere.
I think Soph has made the leap to school pretty well.
Outside of school, she’s been leaping lately too.