Last week was a busy one for the children. They spent lots of time playing with each other, exploring the materials in the classroom, and getting settled into the many routines of school. To be honest, it was, at times, overwhelming for everyone–parents, children, and me. There are a lot of new things to remember in a new school! Ordinarily, I would have been familiar with everything and able to demonstrate procedures, but I was just as new to the school as the children. I was certainly able to empathize more with the children and new parents.
Over the summer, I participated in an Early Childhood Conference for 3 days. I remember one of the presenters talking about reimagining “circle time” as a place to draw children in to discuss, share ideas, and plan the day, rather than as a time to teach compliance to sit and listen. I decided to try splitting the group into 3 smaller groups this week, so that the children might be more comfortable sharing stories with each other and so that learning everyone’s name wouldn’t be quite as intimidating for some children. They seemed to enjoy the small groups and were able to recall many of the names as well as information that other children had shared. Afterwards, I transcribed their statements and posted their pictures in a high-traffic area. I noticed children attempting to find their names as well as others’ names throughout the week. I am going to ask the children this week what they would like to do with the sentences- make a book, a puppet show, compose a song, make a photo story, or something else. These types of activities all help to build community, something often talked about as a goal for education, but sadly, sometimes overlooked.
Continuing with the building community theme this week, I decided that we would go for a walk in the rain. Much was learned during the sharing of umbrellas, some people were much taller than others, making umbrella sharing difficult. Some children offered their umbrellas to others to share, while they shared with someone else. They helped each other navigate through puddles and over puddles, discussed the height of rain boots, the effectiveness of rubber as a waterproof material, and investigated the flow of water along the parking lots and ditches. We discussed our rule that everyone agreed to about sticking together, why that rule was necessary and how we could help each other stick together.
This week also ended with our first Family Friday. I was first introduced to this concept by Joanne Babalis, a presenter at a FDK Summer Institute I attended in 2014. Basically, it means that the classroom is open on Fridays to families, so that they may participate more fully in their child’s experience at school. This Friday, we had around 20 visitors, a great turnout for the first one! One child’s mom helped the children harvest most of the basil from our Little Green Thumbs garden and then worked with the children and another child’s grandmother to make bruschetta and a basil pesto fusilli. Most of the children enjoyed the food and many took some home to share with their families.
Building community in a classroom and including families in their children’s education is of the utmost importance. Relationships forged among children, teachers, and parents form the basis for a child’s school experience to be a positive one. When children see their families interacting with the teacher, other children, other parents, the message is clear: Here, we care about each other. We communicate. We collaborate.
We stick together. Rule number one.
Dedicated teacher for the past 18 years. Lifelong learner. Newbie blogger. Follow me on Twitter @Baker1973Cathy