From The Director’s Chair: The Kinder Garden
Julia @ Kids Matter
"Children are like tiny flowers: They are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers." - Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) the founding father of Kindergarten.
Kindergarten has come quite a long way from when I entered the hallowed halls of Glendover Elementary in 1981. We only went half a day for one thing. Most of our day was spent with cookies, juice, Alphabet Buddies, a nap, and the Electric Company. Nice day, huh? These days, Kindergarten is one of the hardest years a little one will face as they begin their academic career. I have known parents who are pulling their hair out over the amount of daily work and homework sent home with their 5 year old child. So, what can we, as early educators, do to aid these wee babes as they march, determined with their oversized backpacks, into their scholastic life? The answer is simple; get them ready with kindergarten prep!
On that note, let me ask you this… Are your Preschool classrooms up to par? Are the teachers you have in place aware of the role they play in early education? Are your Learning Centers helping them in their educational quest? Is your curriculum outside of the same old rote style teachings of the alphabet and days of the week songs? If you answered no to any of these questions, believe me, you are not alone. So let’s break the questions down one by one, shall we?
· Are the classrooms up to par? Work with your teachers on rearranging the classrooms every 3 months. I know it is a lot of work, but by changing the room around, you are giving the children a somewhat ‘new’ room. They get excited with change which may promote well-mannered behavior.
Just remember the golden rule of room arrangement. Book Center should be in a quiet area of the room and away from the doors. Block Center should also be away from the doors and certainly away from books (it is often a noisy center). Keeping these centers away from doors is a safety precaution for fire drills.
· Are your teachers aware of their role? Teachers in this age group can get downright tired and overworked trying to come up with new and exciting ways to keep 3, 4, and 5 year olds interested in learning rather than playing. Well, the answer is in the statement.
Your centers should be set up with things that children can learn through play. A great Science Center, Math Center, Writing Center, and Word Center can really help. Also, reaching out to your local elementary school kindergarten teachers can be a gold mine! Ask if your teachers can come observe for a day or two. Have staff pepper the kindergarten teachers with questions of what they expect in their new students and what centers they utilize in their classrooms.
· Is your curriculum really teaching the children? Curriculum is the foundation of a truly great class. If your budget does not afford you the top of the line curriculum plans, there are always ways around that. Group trainings are a great way for your staff to get familiar with lesson planning. Websites like Scholastic and Dr. Jean can really help your teachers! Also, give them a ‘lesson planning hour’ where they can find a quiet place away from the classroom to research and plan. Hold them accountable for these lesson plans as well. Make sure you have final say on all lesson plans a week before implementation.
Giving them a road map every month also helps greatly! As a Pre-K teacher, I worked at a few day care centers. At one, I was completely on my own for planning. At the other center, I was given a packet every month with the weekly themes, work sheets, ideas, inspirational quotes, and a teacher professional development project. This extra guidance made all the difference in the world!
If you work in the office alone, ask a lead teacher to take on the monthly project of creating a packet for staff to follow. I assure you, it works wonders in your classrooms; the teachers will love you for it!Well, until next time folks, remember- Children are like flowers in a garden. They each are unique, beautiful, and require individual as well as group care. Give them the tools they need to succeed both academically and emotionally. Grow your garden well!