Tag Archives: back to school night

Philosophy for Kindergarten

kindergarten philosophy

It used to be that Back to School Night was one of my least favorite parts about teaching.  Even after so many years of teaching, I’d still get nervous.  I’d find my self stuttering and saying, “um” a lot more often than I’d have liked.  For some of these parents it is their first time in an elementary school classroom and this is all new for them.  Last year, was one of the first times that I began feeling comfortable in front of the crowd…and believe me, its a crowd!  With 23 students and at least one parent for each one, there are a lot of adults in that room.  Seeing them contorting their bodies to fit in little kindergarten sized chairs is always a sight to see.

This year, I actually found myself looking forward to it once again. I had a captive audience and they seem very excited to see their children in such a busy and exciting school.  I love watching them open up their children’s writing folders and try to decipher “kindergarten spelling.”  Someone asked how I did it, and to be honest, I told them, I have had a lot of practice, but sometimes, even I don’t know!  They all laughed as I tried to explain “subitizing” to them.  A word even I had never heard of until a few years ago. (For those of you wondering, subitize is defined by Dictionary.com as

to perceive at a glance the number of items presented,

It is so much fun to teach Kindergarteners big words and let them go home and impress their families with them!

I always tell parents there are no secrets in Kindergarten.  This year, I borrowed a phrase that I learned from one of the other teachers I work with.  She tells the parents at Back to School Night, “I’ll believe half of what they tell me about you, if you believe half of what they tell you about me!”  That got a big laugh!

Overall the night was a success.  The parents seem happy.  Their children are wonderful.  It was a really calm and painless back to school night.  One father told me that he used to teach 2nd grade and that a lot of what we were doing, was what he had done with his students!  The curriculum is challenging.  It is not Kindergarten from when I was young!  These children will leave in June reading and writing, adding and subtracting. I stressed this but I also left them with my philosophy for Kindergartners.

This year in Kindergarten your child will read, they will write, they will learn to add and subtract – but for me, the most important thing your child can get out of Kindergarten is to learn how to  socialize appropriately.  They will leave here as good, kind people.  Skills that they will need in order to be a successful learner.

DJ’s Last Back to School Night

don't try this at home

Tonight was DJ’s Back to School Night.  His last one.  I was feeling sort of bittersweet throughout it all.  A little envious as well!  He has an awesome schedule!  As a Senior, he wound up with some really great classes and his teachers all seemed very enthusiastic. I heard so many compliments and stories about DJ.  EVERYONE knew him.  DJ doesn’t talk much about school to us at home so I find out about a lot of the things he does through other people.  Teachers and parents who are at the school all know him as “The Weather Guy.”  Until last Saturday, I had no idea he did any of his television production work in front of the camera~ I thought he was all behind the scenes.  Apparently, he is quite the comedian and takes part in television spoofs and reports the weather in all sorts of interesting ways – like riding a scooter down the halls.  How did I not know this about him??

Tonight, he was asked to sit in for his Television Production teacher who couldn’t be there.  All he had to do was play a video that the teacher had recorded for the parents to see, but it meant that I got to be in the class twice since he does the AM and PM news.  I noticed his name written everywhere for upcoming skits.  He’s doing a lot more than the weather!  Today he did an insane challenge, that of course at first I was horrified at, but as I saw the video and the photos and he assured me of the precautions he took in doing it, I lightened up…although he does need to put a disclaimer on this one I think!  Everyone has seen the “Ice Bucket Challenge” but someone in the studio came up with the idea to do a cinnamon challenge!  Cinnamon?  He wore a face mask, goggles and to top off the costume, a cowboy hat.

dj cinnamon

He hadn’t told me about it but when a parent, (who knew about the challenge) came up to him today and said something smelled like cinnamon, he laughed and showed me the photo.  Who is this kid?  He is quiet and reserved at home.  Fun loving and outgoing but I had never seen this side of him before.  It was really nice to see.  Do I want to see another crazy cinnamon challenge…NO, but I love that he is such an active participant and so willing to try new things.

I guess it is true, as kids go through high school, they find their niche, maybe even their calling.  DJ has known since 9th grade that he wanted to do something in the field of television.  I am happy to see that his high school has given him the opportunity to excel in something he loves so much.

Oh…and come to think about it, as we drove home, his car did smell a lot like cinnamon!

No More Coddling!

roots to grow

Tonight was Back to School Night for Drew.  7th Grade.  Last year was such a great year….smooth transition, no complaints about school, he loved his teachers, made the honor roll three quarters out of four.  It was almost blissful. Even Back to School Night last year was joyful.  I loved his teachers, his team.  It was a just a really fantastic school year, and for anyone who knows Drew, it is a tough task to keep him interested, alert and eager to learn!

Well, the honeymoon is over.  He’s been in school for 11 days.  Some complaints already, A LOT more homework.  No more coddling.  They aren’t babies anymore is basically what I heard in one class.  I have been hearing this since last year.  Whenever I raved about how wonderful school was for him, I’d hear, “It is so different in 7th grade.”  Such a contrast from last year.

I know there are a few years that are what teachers call, “transition years.”  This is one of them.  I could even feel that vibe myself just sitting through his classes tonight. It is going to be rough and he might struggle, but I know that as a classified student, and with the extra help he will be receiving, he will be okay.  It will be a lot more work than it was last year, but he will get through.  I am sure we will have some homework battles at home…it will probably even wind up in a blog now and then.  Last year, it was so easy to work along side with his team and his inclusion teacher.  This year might be more difficult, and I know I have to let him develop more independence.  It will be a learning and growing experience for both of us!

Back to School Night

a hundred years teacher

Tonight is Back to School Night at our school.  This night used to make me a jumble of nerves, but now, I find myself looking forward to it.  I like meeting the parents and introducing them to their child’s first experience at elementary school.  For some of them, this is their first child to go through school.  For others, who have been through it before, I am sure that is just routine but I hope that I am able to give them a glimmer of excitement into the “magical world of Kindergarten.”

Having taught other grades, I can assure you that there is nothing quite like Kindergarten.  It is so different from when I was growing up.  Back then, it was still a half day program, we did a lot of playing and socializing.  Now, we have a full day program.  Reading, writing, math, social studies and science are all taught during the day.  There are assessments and progress reports.  So much to soak up in  those five year old brains.  There will be so much to experience and conquer, all while learning how to socialize, and become learners!

I tell the parents that their children will learn how to lose gracefully – there are twenty-two children in the class, they can’t all be winners all of the time!  They will learn how to share and not talk while others are speaking.  They will learn how to walk quietly in the halls and how to use personal space!  There is just so much for those little minds to absorb!

I enjoy watching the faces of the parents as I tell them all of the things that their children will accomplish this year.  Some of them look with amazement, wondering just how it is possible while others nod knowingly since they have been through it all before.  The most important thing I like to tell them is to talk to their children about their days.  Make them tell you more than, “good” when you ask them how there day was.  I joke and say, “There are no secrets in Kindergarten.  I probably know a lot more about you than you think I do, and in turn, you will probably learn a lot more about me than I could imagine. ”  Children are like sponges.  If we give them the chance to soak it all in without overwhelming them, they will thrive.