In this issue of Elevate we look at a day in the life of Kindergarten teacher, Kathryn McMahon. Whether you’re a current TIGS family, a Year 7 parent, or considering enrolling at the school, this article will provide insights into the depth of a student’s day to day experience at TIGS, and a unique perspective of those in which we place their care.
The day begins for me the moment I wake from my slumber. As I savour my last few moments in bed I begin to think through the day to come. “What’s happening today, what special events are scheduled, is it someone’s birthday, do I need flat shoes for lots of walking or can I splash out with something fun to entertain my ever-curious Kindergarten students?”
Once at school my mind is engaged in all that needs to be ready for our busy kinder classroom. The daily timetable is prepared with visual prompts so the children know what they can expect; new readers are chosen for each student ready to support their individual learning requirements and interests, fine motor development activities are placed on tables ready for the morning which turns work into child’s play. All of this is done as students begin to arrive and pop their head into the classroom to say “Hi” and perhaps show or tell me something they have done since last we were together. Music plays to signal the start of the day and I meet my 15 eager faces lined up ready to go.
Each morning Kindergarten engages in literacy learning. This includes explicit teaching and learning within our units of inquiry. Students move through a range of experiences involving reading, writing, fine motor skills as well as learning about formal and informal speaking and listening.
Guiding students to become independent learners is a goal we set from day one in Kindergarten. We use a ‘gradual release of responsibility’ approach; modelling and guiding each student at a pace that suits their development. This can be an enormous challenge in Kindergarten especially as students are learning to write and read however the rewards are enormous and each day is filled with moments of joy and celebration as students learn so many new skills.
We then have lunch which is a great opportunity for Kindergarten to play in our specially designed play area giving them a chance to run, slide, hide and chill. I may take a break or perhaps join them for supervision, run my weekly sewing club or have a lunch break before preparing for the afternoon.
After lunch, we continue our learning journey. We may do hands-on maths or continue our unit of inquiry through a transdisciplinary approach. Regular subjects such as science, history and creative arts are explored together using lines of inquiry to guide our exploration of a central idea.
During the week our students are privileged to experience subjects such as music, art and sport, taught by specialist teachers in their given field. There’s much to be pulled out and put back in a Kindergarten classroom and while students learn to be great helpers this time is invaluable for jobs including communicating with parents or working collaboratively with other teachers to develop rich learning experiences and environments for our students.
From learning to pack a bag to write a story or create a tool to test the weather, my day in Kindergarten is always filled with awe and wonder. Watching young students discover new knowledge, skills and independence is a gift I treasure.
As I head home I reflect on my day, thinking about how I can support my students better the next day and over the remainder of the year. Parents of kindergarten students, if you head home and ask your child, “What did you do today?” and they say, “Nothing” believe me, it’s not true.