One of the most exciting parts of Kindergarten is to be the Special Helper. There are many varieties of this special day such as Student of the Week or the VIP (Very Important Person) but we like Special Helper because let’s face it, our Kindergarten children are so very, very special and wonderful…and sweet….we could go on, but we’ve got teenagers at home making noises about dinner so we better get on with writing.
Your child has a few weeks during the fall to observe the roles of the Special Helper and learn about them from the teacher. Each student gets to be Special Helper about once a month. It’s an excellent exercise in self-regulation as they see that each child gets a turn but must be patient while waiting for their own. It’s like Christmas….we all know it’s coming. We post the children’s names on a calendar on the Parent Bulletin Board so parents know when their child’s turn will be. We also have an alphabetical list of names in our classroom in the meeting area. The children see the clothespeg moving down the list each day as the Special Helper has his or her turn and, like the visual schedule, can anticipate when their turn is coming. We’ve been asked, “How many sleeps until it is my turn?” many, many times and we all help out by counting down the days.
As the Special Helper your child has a variety of roles. The first is as a Leader and Role Model. We have seen many times how a student, quiet during class discussions and with gentle interactions among classmates, embraces their leadership position and simply relishes in the role. Sometimes, we don’t get an opportunity to exercise our leadership until it is thrust upon us.
The Special Helper is the Line Leader anytime we leave, or return, to the classroom. On certain days, that can be up to 6-7 times during the school day your child gets to be the first one in line, and close to the all action. The Special Helper never needs to worry about where he or she might stand in the line as he or she is always FIRST.
At the meeting area, your child sits on the Special Helper chair, not on the carpet with the rest of the class. Special Helpers, like their teacher, get to survey the kingdom…whoops, classroom, in their role.
The Special Helper leads the Math Their Way Calendar. First, your child chooses a wand (rather than a pointer) to lead the class, like the teacher. The Math Their Way Calendar is a very special job. There are four main tasks, with many math skills embedded in it. We sing the “Days of the Week” song, chant the days and turn over today’s card; count the number of days we’ve been in school while patterning the actions to the monthly pattern, and add to the pattern; chant the colour pattern we’ve chosen, and colour in the next square and print the date; and be the meteorologist by checking the weather and colouring in the weather graph.
Your child has just led the class in reciting the days of the week; reviewing the concepts of “today, yesterday and tomorrow,” rote counting; extending patterns; showing an understanding of directionality (left to right; top to bottom); statistical analysis and demonstrating their fine motor skills by colouring and printing the date. WOW! Our greatest compliment is when we hear students are creating their own classroom and calendar area at home so they can be the teacher to teach their younger siblings and stuffed animals, who willingly act as students.
Sharing is the new phrase we use now, rather than “Show and Tell.” Show and Tell seemed to almost have a bragging quality to it, so we use Sharing which makes us feel like we’ve been invited to participate in seeing or learning about something special…which we most definitely have.
During Sharing your child is again in a significant leadership role. Your child is standing up in front of their classmates with all eyes looking. It’s really exciting to watch your children proudly taking special objects out of their ziploc bag. Many like to keep the objects hidden away (special cupboard in the classroom, or tucked behind the Special Helper chair). Sometimes parents send in a few notes for us with extra information which is very helpful if there is a lot to remember – after all, some of us are still just 4 years old. We are happy to help and prompt your children. Sometimes, they just need a little support and encouragement.
Your child knows when his or her turn is coming up — the list is posted in the classroom and everyone is checking daily to see when it’s their turn. Please check the calendar outside on the Parent Board so you know the date and can give yourself some time to prepare the Sharing with your child. Your children won’t always need or want your help for school assignments but right now, Sharing is a teaching and learning process for them.
Let us share our experience as parents of teenagers in high school and University: when your child sees you are interested and involved in their schoolwork, their commitment to their schooling and doing their best is deeper. We’re not saying to “do the work” for them, but these tiny people have not necessarily had “an assignment.” Teaching your children that they have a personal responsibility to bring in their Sharing, and that you will support them, is forming good habits about homework. You’ll always know in advance what the theme for the monthly Sharing is…so start a few days ahead of the big day, give your child two or three choices to bring in for Sharing, and then talk with them about what they might say to the class and make a few notes if necessary. Have a little rehearsal at home for the parents, brothers and sisters — it’s fun!
Every year we have students who are reluctant to bring a Sharing; but send it along anyways and we will model their Sharing for them with the class. It’s amazing how quickly the children want to do it themselves once we start doing the talking! “No, like this!!” is typically how we are interrupted. We want your children to feel like they are participating fully in class activities, and not to worry…their classmates are always an appreciative audience.
Please note: We are no longer going to allow the children to bring in their Sharing on another Special Helper’s day, if they forgot to bring it on their own day. We find it takes a long time to go through up to three sharings if children forget. If your child is going to be away, let us know and we can try to switch with another student.
Now, our current theme of Holiday (Christmas) Sharing is in progress and we are having FUN seeing your children’s stockings, Christmas ornaments, Christmas storybooks, and decorations! Thank you to everyone for opening up those Christmas boxes early to accommodate us!