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Thursday, December 17, 2009

My morning in kindergarten

Today was my day to volunteer in Robbie's kindergarten classroom. I don't get to do that as much as I would like to, so it was a real treat. It was also a real eye opener.

My job was to help small groups of small people complete a Polar Express book. On each page, there were a few sentences at the top and an open space for the kids to draw a picture. Two of the pages required gluing something to the page.

The first thing I did was mess up the glue bottles. Who knew that you didn't unscrew the tops, but instead just pushed down and rubbed. Ok, so the kindergartners knew -- but they didn't tell me. I unscrewed the top of the glue bottle, squeezed and promptly got a big glob of glue oozing down the side of the bottle.

Once I got the glue thing figured out, the first group finished with their gluing and drawing. You would have thought that I said they could have ice cream for breakfast when I told them they could color their books with markers. Apparently, markers are a special treat.

Robbie was in my first group. He did pretty well, though he was a little distracted and got up from his chair a few times. While he was gone, a few of the kids decided I needed to know that sometimes Robbie goes to time out and sometimes Robbie acts bad. Duh, I'm his mom. I know that. But they kept it up and I wanted to seal up their little lips with the drippy glue.

Fortunately, the teacher rang the chimes signaling time to move to the next group. Little Miss Boss at the table (I'm pretty sure this was me as a kid), attempted to collect everyone's books and put them on the designated chair. A few of the kids readily handed them over. A few other were clearly annoyed with Miss Boss and declined to give her their books.

The second group was pretty good, with the exception of Miss Whiner. Oh my gosh, this kid whined about everything. Whine, whine, whine about the glue. Whine, whine, whine about the red marker. Whine, Whine, whine about not being able to draw a Christmas tree. By the time group two was finished, I needed some wine.

When the third group arrived, I started reading the story and one little boy told me he could read it. And I'll be darned if he could! So I let him read each page of the book, which was a welcome change because I could feel a headache coming on. There was a low rumble throughout the room the whole time I was there. No one out of control, just the sound of 22 little people in various activities of learning.

I was a little nervous for the fourth group to get to my table. There was a student in that group who is autistic and I wasn't sure how much she could do for herself. She wrote her own name and drew some pictures. But she was easily distracted and sang "Jingle Bells" over and over and I generally got the idea that she was in other place. The other kids were really terrific with her. She wandered from my table several times. A few times I was able to call her back to the table. Other times I let her wander. When the teacher came over, she gently sat the girl down and asked her to look at the book.

"Tell me what this says," the teacher requested.

And do you know that child READ the entire booklet, word...for...word! You could have knocked me over with a feather. It was like she was a different person. Floored, I tell you.

When my two hours were up, the headache was knocking on my forehead and I was exhausted. Don't get me wrong, I had fun and will definitely go back. But so many little personalities to stroke, so much gentle correction and patient hand-holding to be done.

I made a mental note that perhaps hot chocolate and a Christmas mug is not enough of a holiday thanks for kindergarten teachers. I'm thinking tequila and an extra-large bottle of ibuprofen might be a better choice.

For more kindergarten reflections, click here.


Momza said...

LOL a real time moment in kindergarten makes me appreciate teachers too!
Amazing women who can keep their cool with a room full of 5 year olds!
Hope your headache went away!

Eternal Lizdom said...

I am so insanely impressed with the teachers at Teagan's school (pre-k and kindergarten). And the kindergarten class is mostly boys! And those teachers are cheerful when we arrive and cheerful when we pick up and there is this genuine kindness, compassion, patience, and love...

I got our teachers a holiday candle, Andes mints, and a Target gift card. And it isn't nearly enough.

Janet said...

Hi Amy -- love your blog. Love what you had to say about kindergarteners.

I would like to suggest that you use the word "austism" as in a child with autism, instead of an autistic child. "Autistic" has many, many negative things associated with it, as you discovered are not always true. I have a 7-year-old, first grade son w/ autism. Most of the time he is more like the other kids than different.

Janet, mom to Olivia (11), Ruthie (9) & Luke (7)

Janet said...

P.S. you DID NOT use autistic in a negative way :-)

Nate's Mom said...

Amy ~ I get that feeling in Nate's class too. And, I used to teach K. May I suggest movie tickets, with a little note that says "enjoys a quiet evening without kids" lol, or something similar. I love teaching Sunday school now. But, that's my limit.


Joanie said...

OMG I laughed out loud reading this post! there is no way I could ever be a teacher. I do not have the patience to deal with little kids.

Next you want hot cocoa, try adding some vodka and chambord (raspberry liquer) to it. It's yummy and you get a nice warm fuzzy buzz!

adraider21 said...

How was Dylan? Was he a pain like he is at home? Jk. I love my little bro-jo!

adraider21 said...

How was Dylan? Was he terrible as usual? Im just kiddin'. I love my new little bro-jo! =]