For three days last week our Kindergarten class participated in our school district’s Kindergarten Gradual Entry where half of the class each came to school for two hours a day. Each child has an opportunity to meet their teacher and classmates, learn about the classroom routines and activities, all in a gently paced manner that best suits their needs as new learners in BC’s public school system.
Although we realise that the children are very eager to begin school with a full day, we use this time to teach and reinforce the classroom routines that form an important part of our classroom management, the foundation of good teaching practice. When the children are familiar and comfortable with these routines, they feel more confident and secure in knowing what to expect. This knowledge helps them with their self-regulation so they feel calm, focused, relaxed, happy and ultimately, ready to learn.
Our Kindergarten children have started to walk the road to independence. We always carefully think through each of the routines we wish to teach our new students. Here’s some of what we did last week:
The children learned where their cloakroom hook is to place their backpacks, coats and extra bag of clothes, and how to line up patiently at the door for their teacher.
The children learned routines for how they wash and dry their hands before eating times.
The children learned how we manage our Activity Time play centres with four to a group, to share and take turns cooperatively, and to speak quietly and kindly our friends.
The children learned at Meeting Time that we listen with our whole body: our eyes are looking at the teacher, our ears are listening to the teacher, our mouths are closed and our hands and feet are still. One person may speak at a time so we can all enjoy listening to each other.
So what will we be doing tomorrow? We’re going to share with you a page from our Kindergarten Handbook, “A Day in the Life of Kindergarten,” so as you are busy in your work day, you will have a sense of what your child is doing in school.
Our day starts at 8:50 am when the children are gathering outside their classrooms. Parents are supervising their children until the teacher arrives and supporting their children in self-regulation by reminding them to wait quietly and calmly. Students are not to knock on the door. Students may be holding their library books to place in the library book bin, monthly homework calendars or other forms to return. At 5 years old, your children can independently bring those school items into the classroom.
When the teacher arrives, the children come into the classroom and may look at storybooks until the 8:55 bell rings. At Ridgeview our whole school stands and sings “O Canada.” During this time, students and parents in the hallway are expected to stop and sing, or quietly observe the national anthem.
School announcements from the office follow for the teachers and students. The teacher takes attendance, and that form is taken to the office by the Special Helper and the previous day’s Special Helper. The teacher then reviews the daily visual schedule so students know what to expect throughout the day. The visual schedule also helps the children to self-regulate through the day, as they can note the completion of each activity and see where break opportunities occur.
Activity Time, or Centres, provides a time for the children to play and socialize. There are a variety of activities available, from puzzles to drawing to the House Corner. Four children at maximum may play in a Centre at once. We try to regulate the Centres so that everyone who wants to play at a given activity gets a chance.
Our first Meeting Time of the day occurs after clean-up. Here, we sing the “Hello My Friends” greeting song, and then the Special Helper leads the class through Calendar Time, focusing on the days of the week, counting and patterning the dates and graphing the weather. We usually complete Alphabet, Theme related or writing activities, before recess.
At Ridgeview, the Kindergarten children eat their morning snack while the rest of the school is outside at recess. We always wash our hands before we eat. During snack time the children eat quietly while listening to music, and socialize quietly with their table friends. When Grades 1-7 return to their classes, we go outside to enjoy the playground on our own with the playground supervisors.
After recess is a time for quiet reflection before we begin Math activities. We may listen to quiet music, or complete the Core Practice (deep breathing) to relax and calm our bodies in anticipation of the next lesson.
The use of math manipulatives to develop conceptual understandings of patterning and number forms the basis of our Math learning. The children also learn to print their numerals with correct formation, study the basic geometric shapes and measure using non-standard units.
The Kindergarten visits the Library once a week for a lesson and book exchange. Our teacher-librarian bases her lessons on the Kindergarten themes, as well as a focus on fiction and non-fiction.
Additional lessons in Health and Career (HACE) occur on a weekly, or as needed, basis. During this time we teach Self-Regulation strategies, and lessons in Social Responsibility, empathy training, impulse control and problem-solving.
Our lunch routine is similar to recess in that the children place their lunch kits on the tables, wash their hands and then sit down to quietly enjoy eating their lunch with their peers. We try to keep the eating times quiet as eating is a self-regulating, calming activity. After eating, the children play outdoors on the playground with the rest of the school. The Kindergarten has a designated play area and are supervised by Ridgeview playground supervisors.
Each afternoon is a little different, but it usually begins with afternoon attendance and then a read aloud story and Sharing by the Special Helper. Depending upon our schedule, our class may have Physical Education, Music, Buddies or Art. We also typically have a Centre time which is focused on either Constructions (building), Literacy (reading, writing and math), Puzzles (group sharing and cooperation), Discovery Tables (inquiry) or Imaginary Play.
A short playtime and snack round out our busy day. We often have a short reflection time of our self-regulation, and take the time to appreciate ourselves and others.
Every Kindergarten day is a day filled with growing, learning and sharing.