Kindergarteners: They Don’t Care

Yelling out the window is not a learning centre.

Neither is chasing a classmate with a spray bottle. Stop it.

Flushing play-doh down the toilet? Also not a centre.

Please don’t pet the tadpole.

We don’t save Lego creations, no, not even if you “put it down really gently” in the bin.

Kindergarten.

I love it. Another year is wrapping up and this time of year is my favourite. This is when we get to reflect on the growth and success of the past year. I’ve been teaching this age group for about 14 years, give or take a maternity leave or two (math is hard, guys). Every year I learn new things.

Have you ever noticed a kindergartener when he dresses himself? I want to live my life with that kind of “take me as I am” attitude. Very few people over age five can pull off sports shorts paired with a long-sleeved, plaid, button-down shirt. Or socks and crocs with a winter vest overtop a t-shirt. They don’t care. 

I dressed myself. Obviously.
I dressed myself. Obviously.

Some might say that kindergarteners have inflated egos and sense of self and they would be correct, but part of that is amazing. If you didn’t have a crazy ego you’d never think that coming in 8th in a race means you won. They don’t care.

Need a pick-me-up? Come to kindie gym and watch them run laps or do dashes from one end of the gym to the other. It is the best. It is physically impossible not to smile like a lunatic who ate too many Oreos when you watch them run their little hearts out with complete abandon. And their peers cheer them on and pat them on their backs regardless of how they performed. They don’t care.

This year I learned once again that being outside is better than just about anything. There are articles and books and jargon-filled resources that essentially all say the same thing: Magic happens when we learn outside.

Just going to do some writing on my own for a while.
Just going to do some writing on my own for a while.

 

Don't know the lyrics? No problem.
Don’t know the lyrics? No problem.

No matter if you are indoors or outdoors, kindergarteners will sing along with any song, even if they don’t know the words. Because they don’t care.

I think I need to care a little less, too (but not about flushing play-doh, seriously stop doing that).

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Is it Mephibosheth?

I did not record this recent conversation with a little kindergarten friend, but it’s pretty much burned into my memory.

 

Kindie: Do you know my middle name?

Me : No. Do you?

Yes. My mom knows.

What is it?

Ummmm….

Do you know?

Yes. My mom knows.

Ok, what is it?

Ummmmm…..

That’s alright.

No, I want to tell you.

Ok, what is it?

Do you know?

No.

My mom does.

Do you know?

Yes.

What is it?

Ummm……

You know, that’s fine.

Do you know my middle name?

I don’t.

My mom does.

Ok.

Do you?

No, I don’t. You don’t have to tell me.

I WANT to.

Ok, tell me.

Ummmmm…..

Is it Mark? Seamus? Mephibosheth?

No.

Do you know, but you forgot?

Yes.

(and back to Lego).

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Wine, guys. Red wine.

Kindergarten Subtext

I often tell people I am a Kindergarten Teacher, but that is not completely accurate. I am, in fact, a teacher of kindergarten students. I love my job and I love the students. So much of our day is not covered by a curriculum or plan. If only the children knew explicitly what I really mean.

Maybe they do.

I hope they do.

When I say, “Try your zipper first, I will help you if you still can’t get it.” I’m telling you that independence is important and I am confident in your abilities.

When my team member tells you, “Those bins are for toys. Are you a toy?” she is really saying, “I want you to be safe and make safe choices. I care about you.”

When I tell you, “I know you farted. That is not nice, we say ‘excuse me’ ” I’m really telling you, “You can’t just fart in front of people and expect them not to notice. Plus, that’s gross.”

When I ask you, “Did you wash your hands? With soap?” I’m letting you know that hygiene is important and also that teachers always know when you skip that step. Or lie.

When you almost trip me in the hall as I walk by with arms full of resources just to give me a hug, I return that hug with a smile because even though I nearly died, you matter to me. We’ll talk about Sneak Attack Hugs another time.

When I tell you to eat your healthy foods first it’s because I care enough to teach you good eating habits. I want you to have a great day and feed your body food that is good for learning. And when I comment on how yummy your cookie looks I’m saying, “I get it, treats are important, too. Life is all about balance.”

When you colour and write your name on a wooden block, I have you scrub that block clean because choices have consequences. It’s always best to tell the truth and own up to your actions. I know you will do better in the future.

When I fist bump you for a well-executed belch before reminding you it is impolite, I’m really saying, “I get it. But there is a time and a place for that.”

When I tell you that you may not cut the line, I’m really saying, “I care enough to teach you that no one likes a ‘butt-er’ and I want you to keep your friends.”

When you put your hands on a friend and hurt them, I will make you take a break. I’m really telling you and your classmates that school is a safe place for everyone. No one is allowed to hurt someone I care about.

When you flop on the ground and squawk I will tell you that you cannot join us for computer lab. And it hurts me. I know you love computer time. But I love you enough to be consistent and set boundaries. We’ll try again next time.

And when you come up to me and ask me to pull out your first tooth, you are telling me, “I trust you.”

I trust you.

That is the best subtext of all.

Ferris Wheel Moment

Recently a kindergarten student was struggling with going to music class. His biggest concern was the noise and busyness of so many kids singing together. A coworker and I debated about how much we should force the issue. It was a tough balance between expecting him to do what the class was doing and respecting his sensitivity.

What to do, what to do.

Then I told him a story.

When I was in about grade two, my dad took me to Niagara Falls. They had the biggest ferris wheel ever. It was so high you wouldn’t believe it. Now, I don’t like heights. Being really high up makes my stomach feel funny and I get scared. My dad knew this. But he also knew that the ride might be a once in a lifetime moment. So he made me a deal. He said:

“Try it for one rotation. Just one. We’re the only ones here. I will tell the operator that if you want to get off, I will signal him to stop it after one time. But if you’re okay after one time around, then I’ll give the thumbs up and we’ll go again. Every time we get to the bottom, I’ll signal to him and you can decide when you want to get off. Deal?”

Even though I still felt nervous and scared, I got on the ride and we went around. And you know what? It was amazing. I did love it. Yes, every time we got to the top my stomach flipped a little, but my dad was with me and I trusted him. I saw things from that ferris wheel that I would never see from the ground. I was glad I tried it out.

Then I looked my little friend in the eye and said, “This is your ferris wheel moment.”

I asked him if we could make a deal. He had told me he didn’t want headphones on because they hurt his ears, so that wouldn’t help him in music class. No problem, no headphones. I suggested he could sit right at the back, close to the door. He agreed. Then I suggested we give it a try for five minutes, he countered with one, I came back with two and we shook hands. Off we went to music class. And he did it! He sat in his spot and we were both surprised when my timer beeped announcing the two minutes was over. He declined my offer to stay longer and we agreed that next week we would try for three minutes.

This is your ferris wheel moment.

Because I’m Four

Join me as we take a peek into a typical day of the average four year old kindergartener.

_________

Ah, good morning! I know it’s morning because everyone is still asleep except me. Rise and shine, family!

Seems like no one has heard my beckoning so I’ll need to go with Plan B: walk stealthily to my parents’ bedroom and stare at them silently until they sense my presence. I know they are ready to start the day when Mommy finally opens her eyes and seems surprised to see me. I have to remember to ask her what “serial killer” means.

Once the mundane task of choosing my clothes is done (no, not that shirt, no, no, maybe, okay that one, wait, let me see the first one again) we move on to breakfast. I prefer my cereal with just a splash of milk. Not too much or the whole experience is ruined. Daddy seems to have that mastered, but I don’t put much faith in Mommy.

And now we’re off to kindergarten!  Oh, wait, Daddy is insisting I put on a coat. Fine. I can do the zipper myself. I got it. WHY ISN’T HE HELPING ME?!

And now we’re off to kinder —- my hood! my hood is interfering with the comfort of my body! I cannot walk to school under these conditions.

And now we’re off to kindergarten. We seem to be walking fast today and Daddy is muttering something about being late. Guess he shouldn’t have overslept.IMG_1487

I love going to school, but I think Daddy misses me, so I like to make a bit of a fuss about lining up, just to make him feel better. He pretends he does not want me to cling to his legs, but I know he secretly likes it. I line up and then make one or two return dashes for one final hug before the bell. You have to invest in relationships.

I wonder what we’ll do at school today? I hope the teacher got new glue sticks because the ones that were out yesterday tasted awful. I think I see some fresh play-doh, that’s good because I may or may not have sneezed on the last batch.

We finally all get our coats and shoes put away and now it’s Carpet Time. I’m not sure what “criss cross applesauce” means exactly, but if you tuck all your body parts in, you’re good. We check that everyone is present, I like to help the teacher by telling her if someone is at school or not, by calling out “not here” at random intervals. Her voice says “stop it” but her eyes are saying “thank you”.

Uh oh, I feel a booger in my left nostril. This cannot wait. As long as I don’t make eye contact with my teacher, I can extract it undetected. Almost….almost….got it! Quick and easy disposal in my mouth, mission accomplished. No, I wasn’t picking my nose, it was just itchy way high up.

Centre time! Where should I start? Sand? Paint? Blocks? Maybe the Discovery Table? No, I saw Jason lick all the pine cones yesterday. Paint it is! I create a fantastic piece using mostly swirls. It’s definitely fridge-worthy.

I think I’ll head over to the blocks. My buddy and I build an elaborate garage for the cars. It is great until Jason thoughtlessly knocks it over. The maker is the breaker, Jason.

The rest of my day passes in a bit of fun-filled blur. I spend some time writing about my snack (it is an apple and a Wagon Wheel – delicious). I rebuild my garage and put pylons around it to keep Jason at bay. Change my book at the library (yes, I’m a bit winded, but that doesn’t mean I was running in the hall). I help at tidy up time and show off my sweet dance moves. We play outside until someone pees against a tree. My teacher and I read together and now I can find the words “is”, “mom” and “me” all by myself.

The next thing I know, it’s Home Time. The day went by so fast. I get all my stuff shoved into my backpack and I’m all set. Oh, wait, forgot to change my shoes. All set! Oh, yeah, that’s my lunch bag you’re holding up, just give me a second to pack that. All set!

And there’s Daddy, waiting for me. He’s always early because he misses me so much. He gives me a big hug and rubs my head. I grab his hand and we head home.

As we avoid all the goose poop on the pathways Daddy asks me, “What did you do at school today, bud?”

I give him my standard reply.

“Nothing.”

I Don’t Mean to Brag, but…

I actually have a superpower.

Brace yourself and prepare to be amazed.

A few years ago when I did Science as a stand-alone subject and not part of learning centre time, I invited Professor Petri to come in and do a science lesson. Professor Petri looked a lot like me, but with goggles and a lab coat. Funnily enough, whenever Professor Petri appeared, Mrs. Moyer vanished! It was uncanny and just a tad unnerving. The students claimed we looked a lot alike, but that only made sense since we are cousins and she tends to copy my excellent taste in fashion (that was nice at first, but has worn on me as the years have passed – make your own clothing choices, Professor Petri -sheesh!). The students pointed out some other similarities and I have to admit, Professor does talk with her hands and says, “I know, right?!”, but don’t forget that we’re cousins and she’s a big copycat.

After her engaging and stimulating science lesson Professor Petri would have to dash off to her other job at Tim Hortons (she was always running late, something I’m thankful we don’t have in common). I’d return to class (thanks for leaving them unattended P.P.) and the kids would be so excited about the materials she left for them to explore that it made all the copycat stuff more palatable.

So, yeah, I’m pretty good at duping small children.

It's not flattering, but it's for the kids. My other alter ego, Super Moyer.
It’s not flattering, but it’s for the kids. My other alter ego, Super Moyer.

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This post is part of the Kindeblog13 Summer Blog Challenge. To read other posts in this series, go to http://www.kinderchat123.net

Confessions

Confess is the topic for #Kinderchat’s Summer Blogging Challenge. I teach kindergarten, I blog, it’s summer, I’m in! You wouldn’t think there would be many confessions related to teaching kindergarten. I thought so, too, for about 30 seconds.

Here’s my confession: I’m a big fat liar.

Although I do have some great classroom management strategies up my sleeve, sometimes I impulsively go in another direction – but don’t judge me too harshly, I never claimed to be perfect. Below are the ones I am willing to share, feel free to adopt for your own bag of tricks.

1. “When I was in Big Teacher School they taught us to tell the difference between real coughs and fake ones. You are faking. Stop it.”

2. “If you run on your way to the library, I will know out about it. I always know.”

3. “I can see everything.” (a slight twist on the “eyes-in-the-back-of-my-head” fib parents use).

4. “If you lie, your right ear turns blue, but only teachers can see it.”

What confessions would you care to share? Babysitting stories are sometimes the best source – share, share away!