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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in kindergarten

Posted by on in Early Childhood

As I paused at a stoplight across from the local elementary school this morning, I saw a familiar sight that brought back memories… Carpool line. Moms and dads giving last minute hugs and kisses and straightening backpacks. First day of Kindergarten! Some drove out of the school lot and on their way. Others pulled into parking spots.

I remember being one of the parkers… just to watch my son walk into the building to his teacher waiting at the doorway. And then, he was gone. Sigh. Just one of many times a parent experiences “letting go.” It isn’t easy. I didn’t think I would cry, because I really did prepare myself for this day. But, it didn’t matter. There I was, along with the other parents, quietly sobbing in my car. I suddenly experienced a vivid flashback of the past five years, overwhelmed with excitement for my son’s future and some unanticipated parental anxiety.


That being said, I was able to rein in the emotions and recover, knowing my son had spent years in a high quality preschool program that prepared him socially and academically for that day and his school years to come.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership


Summer. A time to rest, relax, rejuvenate, reflect and plan. Before we know it, school bells will ring and here we go again. Tonight I'm writing from head and heart, hoping to inspire you to take a giant leap forward in your school and life. 

 Make it happen. Just do it. Kinders are fearless. Why aren't we? What are we waiting for?

At what point do we learn to swim and let go of our floaties? At what point do we simply take the leap of faith and dive in? Full immersion, probably the best way to learn anything. Just do it.

I've spent several hours lately at the local recreation center, watching the kids' swim classes. Newly five is learning to swim. She comes from a family of champion swimmers, except me. Class size is perfect, only four or five kiddos.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood


The last several weeks and months have been busy ones as I've been getting used to my new job and figuring out how to manage all the competing priorities in my life.  How does she do it all? Well, I don't always do it all very well, so there's that!

It's been harder, in this new role, to tease apart the thematic threads of my work and to find things that are worth writing about.  It's not that they aren't there, it's just that every day is so different.  Just when an idea springs forward, another idea replaces it, in an endless loop of upstaging.  If I don't have time to write about it right away, poof... it's gone.  People ask me where I went in a week and I have to check my calendar to remind myself.  The whirlwind suits me but it isn't really conducive to thoughtful reflection.

But, as I looked back on my notes over March break, I noticed that one phrase has come up several times in my conversations with Kindergarten teachers.  We talk about their challenges working with an inquiry-based program, often for the first time, and they mention that they're frustrated because, it seems, the "kids aren't interested in anything." 

Now, I've taught a lot of kids over the years, I worked as a nanny and a camp counselor, and I have kids of my own.  I have yet to meet a kid who, literally, isn't interested in anything.

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Posted by on in School Culture


My husband, who was a math major in college, received this text from our daughter, who is a veterinarian with strong math skills: "If dad is bored, he can think of a word with uppercase letters that has 5 acute angles, 2 obtuse angles and 5 right angles." This is her third grade daughter's homework. It took my husband twenty minutes to come up with LANE. My daughter also thought of VALVE. But here's the point. It was a child's homework assignment and there was no way she could ever have done it herself.

My fourth-grade granddaughter recently asked me what I was thinking to write for my next blog post. She has strong opinions and great suggestions, so I turned the question back to her, and she told me that even with an excellent and innovative teacher that she loves, it is hard to stay focused on the work all day. She shared that sometimes her orchestra music plays in her head when she is supposed to be listening. Many of her friends need balloons filled with material that makes them squishy or balls of play dough to keep them from feeling bored and frustrated. I think we grownups would call those objects stress relievers. This is for nine-year-olds.

But if we really want to see the state of education and what we have done to our young children in school, let's go back to the beginning. I recently led a discussion for parents whose children will start public school kindergarten this fall. I tried to walk a fine line between reassuring them and making them aware of inappropriate practices so they could advocate for all children, including their own.

I cautioned parents that the latest research supports that kindergarten is definitely the new first grade and its goal was to produce readers, regardless of whether children were developmentally ready or not. In the end, however, I encouraged the parents to attend the kindergarten orientation meeting at their local school to form their own opinions.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

With a nudge from this year’s MN Pre3 Principal Leadership Series we have been looking at ways to more intentionally work with our preschool educators in our community.  On Wednesday, March 9th we will put this into action with our first preK/K collaborative staff development opportunity.

Goal: Create a PreK-K Literacy Workshop  

  • 1.1  Engage your learning community in understanding the importance of the early learning continuum and the transitions along it.   
  • 1.2  Set expectations that the continuum of learning from age three to grade three is fundamental to your school’s mission. 1.3 Expand the concept of ‘learning community’ to include collaboration among external, as well as internal, stakeholders. 
Step 1: Seek buy in from preschools and elementary sites
    • Ensure I have an accurate list of current PreK sites and Directors.
    • Find partner with workshop model (U of M PRESS) 

Step 2: Peer Observation Process

  • Set up dates that least involve sub coverage for grade level teachers to go and observe at a different level/site.
  • Develop walkthrough template relevant for literacy walkthroughs preK-1st grade

Step 3:  Workshop follow up We did this….now what?

For 2016-17:

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