July 15 • 11:11 PM

Thank God for kindergarten teachers

October 10, 2007
Every school year again I'm caught off guard by the excitement of seeing the light go on in the eyes of little children as they one by one begin to see the connection between the squiggles adults make and the words on a page.

A lesson might go something like this:

Boys and girls. Today we have the letter B. At this school, this is how we make the letter B. Start at the top line. Make a line down. All the way down. Now, go back up again, aaallll the way uuuppp again. Loop around—no, just to the middle line—that's right, then loop again. To the bottom line. Connect to the bottom of the straight part. When we get our papers, that's what we're going to practice today. Let me show you again. Suzy, could you come up here and try one? Did you see how she did that, boys and girls? That's the upper case, or the capital B. For the lower case, we go up to the top line again. Yes, I know the lower case letters are usually small. But this one is tall. It reaches way up to the top line. Put your pencil on the toooppp line. Bring it aaallll the way down and up around. Only one loop this time. You may have to teach your parents this one, because people used to make it a different way, and that's OK. It's not wrong. But at this school, we do it this way because it will make it easier to learn the kind of writing that that makes all the letters connect together. Have you seen that? You'll learn that when you get a little older. And there you have it. Big B. Little b.

What sound does the letter B make? a bouncing ball (does bouncing ball motion). Can you do that? Let me hear all of you do that. On my white board; right next to my upper case B, and my lower case b, I'm going to make a picture of a boy (Oh! What sound do you think b...b...boy starts with? YES!!! b...b...boy). I'm making a picture of a b...b...boy b...b...bouncing a b...b...ball. Everyone show me the action of a boy bouncing a ball. Mrs. Tanis is passing out your practice paper. When you leave the carpet area, we are all going to practice making the upper case B. Trace mine, and then I want you to make some by yourselves. Fill the whole line. Then make the next line. Then I want you to trace the lower b. Make some by yourselves. Fill the line. Then fill the next line. On the bottom you will do the same thing. Trace the upper case B and the lower case b together, and make some of your own. When you finish, you may make a picture on the back of a boy bouncing a blue ball. BLUE. What does BLUE start with? Do I want to see scribbles? Do I want you to just hurry really fast and not do your best? No. I want to see your best. You may want to color the rest of your picture. You may want to make a picture of a friend bouncing a ball with the boy. Maybe that friend could be you.

Oh...and what's the first thing you do when you pick up your pencil? Yes. Don't forget to put your NAME on your paper. Otherwise you'll do all that hard work and I won't know whose it is! When you are finished; do NOT get up. Take care of your pencil and crayons. You may get a book out of the book caddy at your table and look at it quietly until Mrs. Tanis or I can look at your paper and put a star on it. Then you may quietly go put your paper in your mailbox and go wash your hands for snack (or whatever the next activity is).

Think it sounds like a walk in the park? Think again. Now comes the hard part: keeping 25 kids (or so) on task. Kids who are task-oriented, and those who have a hard time attending to anything for more than three minutes. Those who are in perpetual motion. Those whose sit capacity has already got up and gone. Those who really would like to see scissors or glue involved, simply because they occupy the same work caddy as do the crayons and pencils. Those whose fine motor skills need developing and for whom holding a pencil is hard work. Like I said—think again. And thank a teacher! Because that's only half an hour—maybe 45 minutes—worth. What do you plan to with the rest of the day?

Oh...and you probably haven't read between the lines, or, if you're the mom of one of those precious children we just saw, you probably have. To know that out of 25, at least five have said, "I have to go potty", two probably really did. And there were two who should have said "I have to go potty", but were too shy or reserved to say it, and for whom it may or may not have been a good thing that they were too shy or reserved to say it. And there are some who have yet to decipher that concept that letters and numbers are two entirely different things, and a few for whom English is not the language they've learned at home, and a few for whom three minutes is way more than the time for which they can attend to anything. And there will be a few for whom, for whatever reason, learning, at least by the book, will always be a challenge—whose giftedness lies in other areas—socially, perhaps?

In short, there is a spectrum of learning that will go on in any given classroom. Thank God—and I just believe there is no other way of saying this—there are people who have dedicated themselves to the task of nurturing those children entrusted to them for a good share of the day—through the ABCs and 123s of life, and ever so much more. After all, as the saying goes, pretty much everything we need to know for life has its beginnings in kindergarten.

Castle Creek
Napco Pipe
07 - 15 - 19
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