April Moments

Maybe, just maybe, telling the story is just as important as the story itself

What did you do in school today?

It’s no secret I was a mess about Elliot starting kindergarten.

In the six weeks since the beginning of school, Elliot already has made huge academic and social gains. His phonemic awareness has skyrocketed, and his counting ability has increased. Elliot also is learning better ways to interact and communicate with adults and children. These are just a few of the developments I’ve noticed.

Elliot does a fairly good job of filling me in when we talk about his school day. Nevertheless, he often utters the ever so familiar “I don’t remember” or “nothing” when I ask “What did you do in school today?”

Thankfully, Elliot’s teacher, full of wisdom and experience from working with kindergartners and parenting her own daughter, recognizes this tendency among children to “forget” everything that happened during the school day when parents inquire about it.

A few weeks ago, Elliot’s teacher sent to all the parents a wonderful document titled “What did you do in school today?” It was a detailed account describing every routine, station and workshop the children encounter on a typical school day. Not surprisingly, I wept while reading it for the first time, feeling overwhelmed by how much Elliot is learning and growing every day.

I asked Elliot’s teacher’s permission to reference the narrative in a blog, and she happily obliged. I thought about using only pieces of it, interjecting my thoughts and feelings throughout the essay. But, I decided that it is best left in its entirety. I’ve edited it slightly to eliminate names, shorten it some and – all of my writer friends will appreciate this – comply with AP Style. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into a typical kindergarten day.

As I come in the school doors, I used to need a teacher’s help to walk to my room, but now I do it myself. My teacher, student teacher and teacher’s aide are there in the classroom to greet me. It’s my job to hang up my backpack in my locker, take out my lunch box (if I have one that day), check in my folder to see if I have any papers to give my teachers and put my folder in my mailbox. Then I sign in and put my “stick” in the right cup for hot lunch or cold lunch. After that, it’s off to my seat (if I’m not going to breakfast) to start on my morning work and visit with my friends. On days I go to breakfast, I take my ticket and walk down with my friends.

When my teacher plays “Hello, How are You?” it’s time to put away my work and come sit on my spot on the rug. We listen to the principal’s message and then stand for the Pledge. The leader holds the flag, and we all practice standing tall and very still to say the Pledge of Allegiance together, and then our school pledge, which we know in sign language. After that, I read the morning message with my class. We look for “popcorn” words (familiar/known words that just “pop” out at us) and learn other things that help us become better readers. Then it’s time for calendar when we do all kinds of things like work on patterns, count our days in school (exercising while we count), record the weather and graph different “favorites” of our class.

Then it’s time for shared reading. I love to sing songs and read big books and charts together with my class. Some days we even do silly dances. This is a time when I learn lots about words and how they work; it’s helping me learn to read! On Fun Friday, we get to choose what books and songs we read.

After that, it’s time for stations. My aide and my teacher work on lots of things at different tables, helping us learn to be better readers and writers. There’s a schedule board that I have to follow to complete four activities, along with the other kids in my group. I try very hard during stations to remember to use my quiet voice. I know how to use the computers and the listening station all by myself, and sometimes I get to use a pointer to “read the room.” I like to read the big books and charts that we’ve learned to read together during shared reading. Some days I work at the ABC or word work station, and other days it’s my turn to go to the games center. I love Fun Friday because then we don’t have to follow the schedule board at all; we get to choose where we go and what friends to play with!

When the teacher flashes the lights, it’s time to clean up and get ready for Reading Workshop. My teacher reads a story and then we have different activities to do with the book. After this, I get to go to “specials.” It might be the day for art, music, phys. ed., computer or Chinese class!

After all that work, I’m hungry, and luckily it’s time for lunch and recess! Some days at lunch my teacher is with us, and other days it’s another kindergarten teacher. After lunch, we go outside, where my aide stays with us.

When we come in from recess, it’s math time. There are different activities to do, some with the whole group or partners, and some days we do work on our own. Soon we’ll be starting math stations and working in math journals. This time will help us focus on what we’re learning in whole group time. This is also the time we complete fun science projects that help us use our new math skills.

After this, it’s time for quiet time. We’re allowed to get books and read quietly by ourselves or with a friend. When we clean up, we have class meeting. This is when we pass compliments. Each one of us gets a chance to say, “I would like to compliment _____ for _______.” Some days I even compliment you (parents)! We also use class meeting to help the teacher solve class problems like making new rules or what to do when someone breaks a rule.

The next thing is writing workshop. Right now we are working on handwriting skills and different concepts of writing, and soon I’ll be writing in my very own journal. Then it’s time for another recess, but this is a short one. When we come inside, I pack my backpack and then sit down for a short story. Before I know it, car riders and bus riders are dismissed over the intercom.

The day is over! We were very busy. No wonder I’m so tired when I get home!

Originally published on ovparent.com.

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