"Let's start at the very beginning. It's a very good place to start. When we read we begin with A B C...."
Who knew I'd love teaching littles? Not me, that's for sure.
Preschool KWLW: Here's my learning update, month seven of my what was I thinking in year forty six? Who else in their right mind would start over, at the very beginning. Like how to hold a pencil, how to handle a book with love and repair ripped pages. I think I'm doing pretty well with the goals of the literacy grant, but I'm not working in sequential order like I usually do. I feel so out of sync, then all of a sudden, voila! the pieces come together.
Show and Tell and Circle Time offer time to structure, hold a class meeting for a couple minutes, sing, stretch and say our affirmations. Growth Mindset oozing from every pore of all of us. I lead Circle two days a week. I set and Close and bring puppets, props, a costume, tell stories, you know where I'm going here. Family learning.
Miracles occur routinely now. The little girl who called me mama and wouldn't speak calls me Rita, participates in most activities, knows shapes, colors, uses complete sentences and glows. She's pretty close on right and left shoes, too. Her mom comes at half day and I always make sure to tell her what a great day this little learner had and show her various math, writing, states work products. I am amazed. And humbled.
Spending days with young children is joyful and frequently a riot. I never know what's going to happen next. Now a big believer in velcro and easy zip jackets, not hoodies, one's perspective on teaching changes dramatically.
As a teaching researcher, my leap to budding readers was a big stretch and to be honest, really challenging for me.
Our school now is floating with littles, 2-6. There are only a few older kids to be role models and that's necessary the way our Directors set up the program. Buddies all day long. Large group Circle Time, small groups and all activities.
We got a new kid the other day. The day the family came to check out the school, I nearly flipped. It takes a lot to make me nervous, but I was. The little guy was flying through the school and at recess was a major pain. I need to figure out how to reach and teach him. So far I have an F.
For a number of years I presented for Head Start, Early Childhood and Kindergarten Conferences, but this was not the same as planning transformative strategies, while simultaneously meeting youngsters' most basic needs. Back to Maslow.
A couple times I've asked kids what they ate for dinner and I hear "cereal". Makes one think and be grateful we can feed the children at school. In addition, meals offer opportunity to model proper way to hold utensils, cut, pour, clean up messes and good manners. No one leaves their tables until dismissed. Routines don't vary and littles crave the structure.
What I learned this week:
1. Must better differentiate instruction for Circle Time and small group. I have three smaller groups each day, with children extremely varied in skill needs.
2. The kids are so smart! When I plan closely knit lessons with room to toss out as I go, I have some aha! moments and know I am teaching at pretty advanced levels conceptually, high challenge, low threat.
3. DAP, developmentally appropriate practices is absolutely the way to go. Learning through play at the various stations, in and outdoors makes perfect sense.
4. To keep faith. There are several children I thought I could not reach, and they are blossoming with language.
5. Our administrators are miracle workers. This time I am the follower. They are the leaders and what I see them do with children even I had no hope for, is truly a gift.
6. Kids are engaged by making pizzas, looking at worms through their magnifiers, playing with magnets, reading all day long. Their little hands like to be active, touching eveything, especially my lunch. They also smell, taste and learn through all modalities. Teaching lefties to read and write is interesting to me.
7. Teaching hygiene is really important. Our kids also got dental kits and are expected to do thorough hand washing, reciting the abc's. In fact, I've probably spent more time on hand washing than teaching reading this year, well maybe not, just seems like it.
8. By unleashing my creativity and taking risks, my teaching is better. I wish I was a better artist, but I'm having fun and attempting more than beginning of the year.
9. I am still not great at structuring transitions for this age. The packed daily schedule is etched into my head because there is so much to do and never enough time.
10. Patience and humility are what i learned most this week. I've got a lot to learn.
It seems so obvious to me that all kids should have the opportunity to attend preschool. What we do matters.
Learning is especially significant for these youngsters who come from circumstances less than ideal, needing every bit of my already tired brain and body at top notch to level the playing field at least for these kids. I know what I know now about teaching in a multi-age inclusive school for littles. I know what I don't know, and hope to learn: sign language, needle work, (maybe) coding, better use of tech for this age.
I've pretty well mastered how to model sharing and caring, resolving disputes with other ways than hitting. As for the literacy grant, even the three year olds are picking up more advanced concepts such as word families. I love multi-age because the children teach each other.
Here are some basic skills I've been teaching:
Tracing, cutting, holding a regular pencil
Concepts of print
Rhyme, rhythm and predictable patterns
Alphabet, (upper and lower case)
Sounds and letters
Blending, segmenting; phonemic awareness
Writing name and basic sight words
Writing and counting numbers 1-20
Punctuation, (Yo, Yes!)
Comprehension! Book Walks, Story Grammar
I believe in Universal Preschool with all my heart. America's youngest learners deserve a joyous pre-kinder experience, not just daycare. We are family. We offer children a home for the mind and heart and a sanctuary for the soul. Many blessings to your school and home families tonight.
Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita