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Posted by on in Early Childhood

thinking

This list may seem obvious, but it is surprising how many teachers can become oblivious, in the midst of life in the classroom. Let’s take time to think about some of these things we should probably stop doing immediately…

repeating

1. Repeating Yourself. Getting into the habit of expecting a response or reaction after a first request is critical to classroom management. This ties into consistency, so children will quickly learn that when you say something the first time, there will only be a first time. A second time will mean some sort of natural consequence. It only takes your smart children a short time to learn your MO and to respond accordingly. I know. Taking the time to follow through every single time is difficult, especially when we’re busy. But trust me... The effort put forth is far easier than what will undoubtedly happen as a result of slacking here. Many times one of those results is #2…

listening

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

annoying kids on airplane

I do a lot of air travel throughout the year and just returned from multi-stop flights over the holidays. And, of course, there were young children a-plenty.

Now, for some, this is an anticipated nightmare, requiring logic and strategic planning to avoid the same aisle, let alone the dreaded seat adjacent to a baby or little kid. If these fail, the inevitable leads to the classic stink eye being cast towards parent and child, along with hushed, but still audible remarks about, “If I were that child’s parent…”

bitchy resting face

First off, I do respect a person’s desire for some peace and quiet and personal space during a flight. That being said, I believe a few things about public air travel with small children need to be understood.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood
salad3

Did you bring seaweed salad today, Rita?

Little kids are a riot. Big kids, too. All the same, really, just size variations. Some of the funniest things happen at school, pretty much all day long. 

As the year rapidly draws to close and I'm sneaking in a few unexpected days off, I am also gearing up big time for what lands on Jan 2nd. I just checked out our school syllabus for winter/spring and I need about three of me to tackle even number one on the list.

Starting over in preschool was the best decision I ever made. I am finally learning how to teach. I think I have the basics down for this age group and took a lot of classes which helped. My master teachers are extremely experienced and have my back, and sometimes my front. Talk about lifelong learning. 

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

preschool teacher

“I just have to pass this course! I’m sending you some assignments I forgot to do at the beginning of the semester and I hope you’ll accept them This has been a horrible semester, with my aunt passing away and my Internet not working. And then, I got the flu at midterm and …”

upset

These emails (and even personal visits!) are coming in a steady trickle. My students are suddenly realizing their lack of attention, effort, or organization has now resulted in a crisis situation. For the majority of these desperate cases, I had never been clued in on the life events at the time they occurred, when I might have been able to help. No. Not until now, four days before grades are submitted.

Of course, when at all possible, I try to be accommodating and offer some assignment due date flexibility when a student truly needs it. But those requests will come at an appropriate time and will have a legitimate reason. Those students will honor the extension and appreciate the support.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

bookstack4

The LA Times recently ran this story aimed directly at the feels. It's the tragic cautionary tale of a poor little five year old who arrived at kindergarten only to discover that she was already behind.

At a kindergarten screening two months before her first day, she happily chattered about her dog Toodles, her favorite color pink, her Santa Claus pajamas, her nickname Gigi, her outings with dad to see SpongeBob SquarePants movies.

But many of her 21 classmates already knew most of the alphabet, colors and shapes. Two of them could even read all 100 words — at, the, there, like — that kindergartners are expected to know by the end of the year.

The story is centered around the Great Suspenseful Question-- can Gigi, who never went to pre-school and was not read to daily, ever hope to catch up?

Teresa Watanabe chronicles the tale, duly noting without question that Gigi is facing what used to be first grade work, a situation created by the Common Core. Gigi also had the great good fortune to be enrolled at Telesis Academy of Science and Math in West Covina, a school that proudly bills itself as the "first ever No Excuses Prep Academy in the nation." You'll be happy to know that thanks to a loving teacher and hard working family, Gigi's academic career was snatched from the jaws of disaster.

The whole story is immensely depressing. The major sin of Gigi's parents is that they wanted to have a childhood, one that apparently included lots of travel and outdoorsiness and familial time. Little did they realize that while they were showering their little four year old with love and attention, they should have been prepping her for the rigors of kindergarten. I mean, I am a huge supporter of reading to your child every day, but of all the reasons to do it, "Get my child ready for rigorous academic kindergarten" does not rank high.

Is there any reason to believe that getting littles jammed full of more academics sooner actually pays off further down the road? The story doesn't address that question, nor does Watanabe consider the issue of how widely Littles differ in developmental speed-- after all, what does it mean for a five year old to "catch up"? Catch up to what? Who sets the mark that she's supposed to hit and is it reasonable to expect her to hit it if she's lived six months fewer than a peer?

I read about her mother's guilt and Gigi's own fears of failure and being wrong or different, and it just makes me sad. This story is a reminder that the transformation of kindergarten into a kindergrinder isn't just about unfounded academic practices, but taking vulnerable young children and parents and making them doubt everything about their family lives even as it teaches them to think of learning and school as something to be feared, something to be approached with dread and caution instead of embraced with joy. The toxic nature of kindergrinding isn't confined to the school building, but spills out into the community-- and all without real evidence to prove that all of these sacrifices are worth it.

I love reading. I loved sharing it with my children growing up. I loved the moments when grew into their own love of it and they pushed forward to learn all about how to do it-- in their own time. But not like this. Books are for children to stand on in triumph and excitement, nor for them to be crushed under.

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