What’s going on in the kindergarten world?
On Friday, March 17, I visited the kindergarten classrooms of Molly Revere & Aster Kidane (my mother) and Sydney Pender & Laura Matthews to find an answer. Although I was not able to stay for the entire day, I caught the majority of their morning routine and spoke with the teachers to capture the gist of what a typical day entails. The Friday that I visited also happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, which made for some fun festivities, thematic art, and assorted green attire. To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the kindergarteners discovered in the morning that the toilet water in their classroom’s bathroom was bright green, (“from leprechauns using the bathroom,”) reading holiday-themed books, and shamrock art crafts. I was privy to some serious mindfulness practice, morning greetings, and a brief conversation about leprechauns. Also, just a few days before, Global Scholar in Residence John Dau had visited some Kindergarten classrooms.
In Revere and Kidane’s classroom, Dau had narrated an abbreviated version of his life story with a focus on the types wildlife he encountered. Afterwards, Dau helped lead the follow-up group discussion and several learning activities. Once he had left, the students reflected on the lessons they learned in writing and drawing.
What does a typical Kindergarten school day look like?
In Pender and Matthews’ classroom, their morning begins with a mindfulness routine. Eyes closed, minds focused, the students began with a brief period of silence and reflection upon all they are grateful for. When they opened their eyes, it was sharing time. There was a recurring theme of gratitude for family members and friends for a variety of reasons:
- “I’m grateful for my grandmother, because she said next time I come over we can finish the game we were playing.”
- “I’m grateful for my dad, because he gave me my Marvel video games.”
- “I’m grateful for my friends, because whenever we see each other we play together, and no one gets left out.”
Next, the kids chose “fistbumps” as their morning greeting of choice. Slowly, the exchange of a fistbump and, “Good morning, [name],” “Good morning [name],” was passed around the circle.
Finally, to wrap up the morning routine, all the children participated in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the Lower School prayer:
Bless our Lower School today,
Be with us in every way.
Teach us to be honest and fair,
Guide us as we learn and care.
And may we in our lessons see,
All that we may grow to be.
Following the morning routine, the day’s activities began with a student-led calendar lesson. The kindergarteners practiced their counting skills by identifying and reading the date. Some of the other calendar activities included tallying the number of days they have been in school, using coins to practice counting, and taking this opportunity to review number place values.
During breaks in the day and occasionally during snack time, students are free to run around on Fort Cougar, the hallowed Lower School playground. While renovations and changes have been made to Fort Cougar, these images still cue a nostalgic rush for students that attended Collegiate during their early childhood.
On this specific Friday, Kidane explained, the students had a busy rest of the day in store. Charlie Williams’ fifth grade boys were visiting as “experts on the James River water,” to supplement the kindergarteners’ current scientific study of animal habitats.
This particular study was evident by the fish artwork decorating the classroom walls. The other activities of the day included reading and math “workboards” (rotating station-based learning activities), lunch and recess, rest time, and “centers time,” which is a built-in block for the kindergarteners to choose different recreational activities.
Looking back, fond memories of “centers time” and recess games resurfaced for me. For the most part, the friends I made back thirteen years ago are still members of my class today. While Fort Cougar may have received a significant facelift and mindfulness practice is now part of the morning routine, I still felt comfortably “at home” in the kindergarten classrooms.
Photos by Destana Herring unless otherwise noted.