Ever wondered what kindergartners do all day? I recently spent a day observing my daughter’s class and I can tell you, they do a lot! These kids are busy having fun, learning and playing together all day long.
A typical day in kindergarten at Caldwell starts with the Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem, and prayer. Next, they have calendar time together on the carpet. They learn the days of the week, months of the year, and all about the weather. A big moment of each day is when the Student of the Day is announced. The Student of the Day leads the line and chooses which prayer will bless their lunch. This is a very great honor, according to my daughter when it was her turn.
After calendar time is usually Bible. Here the little ones learn the truth of God’s Word on their level, through story and scripture memorization. One student told me Bible was her favorite time of the day. After Bible, the schedule varies. Sometimes students work on science; this week they learned about reptiles. Other times it’s a history lesson that compliments the Bible lesson. Variety helps students stay engaged and excited about learning.
Snack and break time come next. Caldwell kindergartners daily spend about an hour and a half over three breaks playing outside. Anyone who’s spent any time with a 6-year-old knows playtime is as important to learning as math or phonics. On the playground student learn to work together (to dig holes or collect mulch), to share (sometimes there aren’t enough swings), and vital interpersonal skills (what do we do when we knock someone over?). The Noah's Ark is a magical place they all visit at some point. The monkey bars are a big hit with the more adventurous students. Some just want to play in the dirt! At the playground they can get dirty, run fast, and climb to their heart’s content.
After morning break, it's back down to business with math and phonics. Kindergarten students learn the basics of grouping, how to count money, and even beginning concepts of time. Phonics lessons teach the sounds different letters make and rules that govern our language. Our teachers lay the foundations of reading, addition, and subtraction. It’s amazing to see the light-bulb moments when reading an unfamiliar word goes from impossible to easy. Kindergarten students receive the building blocks of math and language and learn how to start putting them together.
Lunchtime is next, followed by an extended break. Students are expected to manage their time well to finish their lunches. (My little one struggles in this area.) But even lunch can be a time to learn new skills. An extra-long break allows them to burn off some of the excess energy from lunch. After all that running and playing they are ready for some quiet time.
After quiet time, students spend time at stations. This is my daughter’s favorite part about kindergarten. Each week features new stations in which to work and they rotate one per day. Stations are comprised of fun learning games and crafts. Students may experience a graphing game, listen to a story, draw a picture, create an art project, or complete a worksheet. Sometimes they work together and other times in groups. No one goes behind and checks their work because they are also learning initiative and personal responsibility.
Story time, a snack, and the day's final break follow stations time. Sometimes kindergarten students also have specials toward the end of the day. Specials consist of art, music, library, physical education (PE), or computer classes. A child's report about the school day always involves the special because these classes are always favorites. In art the students sculpt, paint, and draw. The works of art they bring home are always precious! We sing the fun songs from music class at home. We practice the new rolling, hopping, and skipping skills learned in PE. Students hear a story during library time and get to check out their very own book, which teaches responsibility. Students are expected to treat the book well and return it on time.
Kindergarten is a blast at Caldwell! But the recurring theme I heard from all the students is how much they love their teachers. Time after time, when I asked their favorite thing about kindergarten the answer was, “I love my teacher!” Caldwell kindergarten teachers love these kids so well. It’s the best feeling to send your little one out into the big world and know they are loved for exactly who they are. Dirt and all.