We survived our first full week of school and my students have truly been amazing. I have never had a group adapt so quickly to the routines and procedures of my class. Our two major mandates are “Look, Listen and Learn” and “Color, Cut, Glue” and for the most part my little ones have those down pat. The first is for our circle time and lessons. The second is for projects.
Look, listen and learn is teacher code for “keep your eyes and hands off your neighbor and pay attention!!” It sounds so much nicer. J At this age it is half the battle to even get children to understand that you are speaking to them. Most spend an inordinate time in front of a television, tuning out their parents, siblings, and others. Have you ever wondered why so many children of the past few generations speak so loudly? I believe it is because ninety percent of the time they are speaking over the sound of a television.
The other component of teaching is to force children to remember information. And I do mean force- by sheer will, endurance, and repetition. You cannot ask a child this age to remember a fact for you. You have to show them pictures, sing songs, recite poems, use flash cards, read stories, count with fingers, write with markers, and play games for every little thing you want implanted in those brains. This week my group learned that there are five vowels (at least for now). So we sang the vowel song, looked at the vowels on the board, counted how many, held up our fingers, looked at a chart of long and short sounds, read a story with rhyming words, wrote the vowels on our white boards, and repeated something from that activity list every day. This week we will sing our song again, look for vowels in our names, etc. etc. etc. Repeat some the next week. By the end of September all of my children will be able to recite and write the vowels.
But keep in mind that each day we are overlapping with a dozen different bits of information. At the same time that we are learning about vowels we are learning the parts of a book and how to read left to right. We are learning to count from 0-10. We are learning to be quiet. We are learning to work at a desk. It is amazing how much a child learns each day!
Color, cut, glue is a procedure that guarantees at least some measure of project success. If a child colors the components of their little book or art picture or matching page first, they are less likely to forget to color. And if they color before cutting they won’t have trouble with the edges of their picture. And if they color before gluing they won’t make a hole in their paper.
I have lots of little tricks and procedures I use to try to make learning easier. Our write and wipe boards are a great tool for story writing. We wrote one-sentence “stories” last week. One example is “I see the bus.” Our stories are always illustrated, just like the books we read. In order to make this a simpler task we write our story two times on the lined side of our boards. Then we turn to the blank side and practice an illustration by “talking through it”. We talked about the shapes and parts of a bus while I drew one on the board. Then everyone practices for a few minutes, erases, and trades their board for a piece of paper. No one whines and says, “I can’t draw a bus!”
First full week…