G Said: What are the most rewarding aspects of teaching kindergarten?
She Said: Teaching kindergarten is an acquired taste and not for the weak of spirit. Many fellow teachers have told me they could NEVER teach kindergarten and to that I groan. I was one of these teachers until I had no choice and because of a layoff situation, I was placed in kindergarten. I now whole heartedly believe that at least a year of teaching kindergarten should be required before one gets a credential. Class discipline, positive reinforcement, classroom management, and much more are learned quickly on the kindergarten battle grounds, where eyes wander to a squirrel out the window, or a student decides rolling on the carpet is more fun then listening to instruction.
I explain teaching kindergarten to G as herding cats or trying to get a group of stoned people to learn and respond to directions. Impossible. Yet kinder teachers do it day in and day out. They sprinkle magic, love, songs, and much more through out the day to reach these young minds. People frequently ask me if I like being a kindergarten teacher and also my favorite grade. I will say that teaching second grade was a CAKE WALK compared to kinder. Would I say I was born a kinder teacher, and it is the perfect grade for me to teach. Hell no! Every day is a stuggle, every day I come home and plop on the couch ready for my own nap time, and every day I worry whether am I doing it right----- Are they learning, and is it fun and excting for my students, how can that Blues Clues guy keep their attention, and I can't??? In the end teaching kindergarten has been the most rewarding part of my career thus far because it is such a challenge. I have not only grown professionally, but kindergarten has shaped me into the person I am today and for that I am grateful.
Here is my list of the most rewarding aspects of teaching kindergarten:
-Laughter! Laughter that is so pure it springs from the belly and giggles straight out the mouth. Kinders teach me to laugh at myself.
-Learning that the words 'control' and 'perfect' have no place in kindergarten nor in any persons life if they want sanity!
-A never ending supply of hugs is readily given.
-Hearing my students say they love me every day when adults sometimes have a hard time expressing these simple words.
-Visiting kindergarten blogs until all hours of the night. Kinder teachers are the most creative and gifted curriculum creators, classroom designers, etc.
-Sharing silly things my students say with G and then laughing hysterically together on the phone.
-I may not be able to solve the problems of the world let alone my own personal problems, but give me a, "He pushed me!" or "She wont play with me." or " Can you tie my shoe?" Yep I can handle that with great success.
-Everything that kinders see, touch, taste, hear, and smell is brand new and awe inspiring. Watching their amazement reconnects me with my inner 5 year old. The world is magnificent!
-Honesty. If you can't handle honesty then kinder isn't for you. I personally love it! There are no passive agressive, back stabbing, talk about you behind your back people here. Kinders are shoot from the hip, show it on their face, and tell- it- to- your- face little guys, and I love it!
-There is tremendous growth that happens by the end of the year. They come in barely able to hold a pencil and leave writing words, reading, sitting criss cross. It is amazing what sponges they are and how far a kinder teacher can take them.
-I can be as girly, pink, sparkly, polka-dotty as I want, and they eat it up!
-Accepting that it is ok to make mistakes. I teach them this and maybe it is about time I start to believe what I preach as well.
-I am one of the first educators that gets to mold them in to life long learners. Shouldn't kinder teachers get a Nobel Prize for this?
-On a daily basis I can play with Fancy Nancy dolls, build with blocks, play vetrinarean, draw hearts and unicorns, sniff play-dough, and read Disney books.
-I find it rewarding to wonder what they will be like when they grow up and hoping they will remember me.
-Who doesn't want to believe in Santa Clause, Superman, The Tooth Fairy, and Easter Bunny?
-The smallest rewards mean something to them. A sticker, earning time to play parachute outside, all are huge rewards for them; you would think they won a brand new car.
-Reading a story and having 25 faces hang on my e-v-e-r-y word. Oh and the accents and various voices I throw in are fun as well.
-Knowing life may be hard for my kinders at home, but when they walk in MY classroom they are safe, loved, cared for, needed, and listened to.
-Learning balance. In order to be energetic, fresh, and ready for a full day of kindergarten I need to make time for myself. Teaching kindergarten forces me to look at my life and priorities or else I would be holed up all day in my classroom prepping and planning all night and day.
When it comes down to it there are many times I think teaching 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th may be more to my liking. This could very well be true, but for some reason the universe keeps nudging me and placing me in kindergarten. It is as if the higher powers are saying--- this is where you belong for now; you need to get more in touch with your inner child, loosen up a bit and not be so rigid, roll with the punches, and laugh at your self. I am slowly succumbing to this better me, and each day is a new opportunity for me to make a mistake, color outside the lines, fall face first in the glittery kindergarten world, and just be a kid. And yet as I sit here typing all the rewarding parts of kindergarten, I begin to realize will these little kinders ever realize just how much they impact my life? They show up on my doorstep the greatest gift of all, wrapped and packaged in boogers, shoes that flash, whines, whimpers, squishy cheeks, pinks, blues, rolly polly bellies, wiggly feet, Disney lunch boxes, goldfish breath, sticky fingers, toothless smiles, barbie bandaged knees, lipstick kisses from their moms and you know what?!?!?! I love it all!