It’s difficult to know where to begin a new blog, especially one about kindergarten. Do I begin with my “philosophy of education” or my stance on government regulations or an entertaining classroom story? I pondered this for a while and decided to start with a simple principle that solves a variety of problems in my classroom. It’s called abundance.
Kindergarten children argue. They don’t like to share. They are often wasteful. Many teachers ask them to keep their supplies in a little box and take care of them. During lessons these same teachers often have to sharpen pencils or stop to let students find or replace a crayon or scissors. They send notes home begging parents to replace supplies. They listen to complaints that “Johnny has MY pencil!” I’ve eliminated much of that in my classroom because frankly, it drives me crazy!
My students each have a “seat pocket”- a chair cover with one large pocket and two smaller ones. They keep “personal word” cards (names of family members, pets, etc.), spelling tiles, “in-progress” papers, and a pencil box in their seat pockets. In the pencil box they keep one box of crayons, two pencils, a pair of scissors, and an eraser. Students may keep “special” pencils or crayons in their pencil box and anyone else has to ask permission to use them.
There is a tray, with removable sections, on each classroom table. The tray contains at least three boxes of crayons, six bottles of glue, a large eraser, and a cup with ten to twelve pencils. There is also a container of crayons, a tub of scissors, and ten bottles of glue in our art center. Here is the procedure for doing our daily work at the table:
1. Use your own supplies.
2. If you lose or break something, check the table tray to see if there is a replacement.
3. If there isn’t a replacement at your table, quietly go to art center and get one. After work time anything borrowed from art center must be returned.
This eliminates so many questions and problems! My students know they always have the supplies they need. They can be stingy with their favorite pencil or the new crayons Aunt Sherry gave them, but if they misplace one, they don’t have to panic about completing their work. I make sure that the table pencils are sharpened each morning, and then during center time we take care of personal pencils.
This principle also applies to other classroom supplies. I usually have five boxes of tissue sitting around. There are eight tubs of play dough. We have fifty or more books out and duplicates of several. I try to make duplicates of folder games and buy duplicates of flash cards. Don’t get me wrong- there are LOTS of things my children must share or wait their turn to enjoy. I just don’t think we need to put children into a situation that creates selfishness if we can avoid it with abundance. And yes, I end up buying a lot of crayons during the year, but it is worth it to me because I enjoy a quieter classroom and calmer students.
Note: I will try to end each post with a question and answer. This question came to me in an email this morning.
Question- “What do I do about my students calling each other the “N” word?”
Answer- I begin the year with discussions about respect and cooperation. I read a series of character-building books and we talk daily about being good friends. I tell my students from the beginning that they may not call anyone ANYTHING other than their given name. I don’t allow teasing and I punish swiftly if it starts. I have asked students to sit in time out and write an apology for calling a classmate “cry baby” or making a rhyme, like “Tracy-bacy”, with someone’s name. The trick is to make the rule and the punishment effective before the children ever think of calling each other more serious names. If serious name-calling does happen then I think you should discuss it with the child AND the parents. I would want to know where the child heard the word and why they thought it was okay to use it. For “serious” labels I usually explain to the child that they are essentially calling their classmate “worthless trash” and ask them if they want to be called that. Depending on your school and community, I realize this may be an ongoing battle for you. However, we owe it to our students and ourselves to be diligent in our mission to eliminate hateful speech.
I welcome questions, suggestions, and comments. You may use the comment feature here or email me directly. I will try to offer helpful advice and take criticism gracefully. :)