Sunday, February 8, 2009

Merry Valentime's Day

This week my dramatic play center is a post office and while observing my students during center time I over heard the following conversation:

S: How do you spell 'happy?'

T: I don't know.

S: /h/ /h/ /h/ /a/ /a/ /p/ /p/ /e/

T: Why can't you just use a different word?

S: I want to write my mom a Valentime (yes, this is how she said it) card and inside I was going to write 'Happy Valentime's Mom!'

T: Do you know how to spell merry?

S: Why?

T: Just wish her a Merry Valentine's Day instead.

Later that day, in the same center, J. created a Valentine for me. She gave it to me after center time and when I opened it this is what it said:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
You have pretty eyes
Because they are blue

This was so sweet but the only problem is, my eyes are brown. When she noticed this she said, "Oh! You're eyes aren't blue! Whatever, just take it. It rhymes."

I couldn't help but giggle at my students in both of these incidences. These students are developing foundational literacy skills. One child is listening to the different phonemes in a word and trying to write that word. One child is recognizing that poets use rhyming words when they write. Regardless, these students and all my students challenge me daily. It is hard to meet each child's academic needs, especially in the area of literacy. So much of a child's readiness to read and write is dependent on their prior experiences and exposure to literacy.

That being said, it disappoints me to read an article (N Is for Nonsensical) by Susan Neuman, where she states that a child's lack of exposures/experiences and a low socioeconomic status will set that child up to not, "fare well in our society." I agree that students who enter into school without previously attending a high quality preschool need more support than those students who did however, isn't that the job of a Kindergarten teacher?

Even though I have students in my classroom with varying socioeconomic status, I try to connect to each child and create an environment where they are set up to learn, much like S. and J. were in learning centers this week.


kathy said...

It definitely is our job to meet our kids where they are no matter their socioeconomic status or level of exposure to certain experiences, but what I took from the article is that all children DESERVE high quality preschool experiences and there is a clear disconnect between who gets them and who doesn't.
We are there to teach and guide our students when they enter Kindergarten whether that happens or not, but it still does not mean it is grossly unfair that some kids get to have a high quality prek experience and others do not. I once had a student who at the age of 5, thought that all four legged animals were cats. She did not have the opportunity to go to preschool, had little to no access to picture books and had only left her apartment complex for short trips to the store on very rare occassions. Her mother did not have transportation and and was never informed that she could have enrolled her child in a local preschool program at no cost. Did her lack of of a preschool experience mean she missed things that other students had coming in to Kindergarten? Without a doubt. I met her wherever she needed it, created opportunities to expose her to books, fieldtrips and as many meaningful situations as possible, but there is no question that her relationships and conversations with her peers was different and that she became frustrated in certain situations. Watching her learn and grow was a wonderful thing to watch on a personal note, but watching her face fall when she felt left out of a conversation or felt frustrated was also heartbreaking. I wish that all of our students could only know positive learning experiences, both at home and at school, but the reality of that wish has yet to come true. Until then we can nurture each student individually:)

April said...

I love listening in as my kids are interacting with one another. I always thought I should write down all of the funny things when they happen so I dont forget them all. I worked at a child development center in Boone, NC and the three-year-olds teacher that I worked with had a thing called the "Quote Book" and she would write down all the funny things that the kids said and then some days at naptime, we would go back through the book and laugh about all the things the kids said. Its true...Kids say the darndest things. All of what you wrote goes right along with your last post. You have to let the kids talk about what theyre learning. What a great example of that!

Kristin said...

Aww I think that is such a cute conversation between your kids, and very sweet she wrote that poem for you! I think what that article said is sad. I agree that teachers should meet their kids where they are, to a certain extent. I do not agree that it is solely the teacher's job to teach them those beginning literacy skills, and it's unfair to expect the teacher to do that. I think you just have to do the best you can. Some kids come into school as a "blank slate", like we were discussing the other day, while others have a wealth of knowledge. I am not a teacher, but I would imagine it would be hard to balance your time between helping the children who come in with very little knowledge, but still nurturing and encouraging the kids who have a lot more. I am not sure how I would handle that, but you sound like you do a good job of it though! said...

i bet you are doing a good job :-)

April said...

You said, "I try to connect to each child and create an environment where they are set up to learn". I think this is awesome. I think it is very important to connect with each individual student on their level. I think the "valentime" and blue eyes situation are great examples of no matter how stressful our jobs get, the kids always give us a reason to smile.

J. Durden said...

The role of good parents (or parental substitutes) is often forgotten about when education is talked about. I had terrible parents, a poor socioeconomic background and a pretty poor school district but I was able to do alright because my older brother looked after me and cultivated a love of learning, reading, and writing in me from a very young age.

cbh said...

J. Durden- thank you for your comment. I think you are absolutely right. I should think more about the role of caretakers not just the role of parents when I think of my students. I appreciate your perspective.