Saturday, September 19, 2015

Routines and Friendships a 4 1/2 Day Challenge

It takes Kindergartners about one month (22ish days) to make friends and get into the routine in school.  At the Options School we only meet once a week for the school year, which means a mere 32 days TOTAL.  I cannot stress the incredible importance of learning routines and making friends as the top goal of our first 4 1/2 days together.  Our initial 6 week inquiry block is: Who We Are.  Our discussions and activities are providing us with language to describe ourselves as learners, writers, mathematicians, scientists, readers, friends, bucket fillers, and so forth.  We have also been discussing friendship and families with comparisons of how our families are the same and different and what we need to do to make and keep friends.
Shaking hands and telling each other what color of eyes they have, practicing good reading skills, learning about vowels and consonants, and developing friendships through play with play dough/loose parts and toys.
Every "project" that involves writing, drawing or creating is given ample time in the first 4 weeks to be shared with the whole class.  EVERY child gets a chance to share their work EVERY TIME.  Through the school year we'll shorten our sharing time and rotate who gets to share each week, but for now, every child, every time is the golden rule.
Utilizing a "How to Draw with Simple Shapes" book we drew pictures of some of our favorite things and then shared with the class.
Many of our group lessons start off with a children's book read aloud to the whole group.  With rich text and captivating illustrations I can quickly give children the language to discuss a concept and develop a starting point for kids to tackle their projects and learning in their own way.  I am also modeling how to share and lead the group, a skill we'll be adding to our days as the year progresses.
Sharing about our families and science explorations aid in developing friendships and language to describe ourselves.
Painting is an amazing activity for kids.  As a form of expressing creativity, children who have the opportunity to paint learn to think with an open mind and to look at situations creatively.  They make decisions on their own from the beginning of the project to the end.  They can use a paint brush or their hands.  They can mix all the colors into one color or selectively mix to create art.  They can express themselves without the limitation of words.  And, they have a blast while doing it.  We will try to paint every single day in Options this year.  If your child doesn't have a paint smock in their backpack please consider donating an old adult shirt for their cause.  Just leave it in their backpack each week and it will get plenty of use!
Sharing pages for our Class Numbers Book and spending time painting.
Though it can be quite challenging to have my own son in my Kindergarten class, it is also a ton of fun.  I get to see him grow and learn and participate in the awesome activities that I prepare for the class.  It feels a little sad when I create something awesome and then can't share it with my own children (which is why I very often repeat activities that I've done with the preschoolers with my own kids).
I am having a blast creating and exploring, teaching and learning with this group of Kindergartners.

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