I’m always cautious about doing too much specific planning during the summer. A long time ago, a seasoned teacher told me that you can make fabulous plans during the holidays, but then the wrong kids show up on the first day of school, and you have to start planning again from the beginning.
Even so, the students who showed up in my classroom this week have me rethinking how I will approach the first month of school, and possibly the whole year. More than two-thirds of the students came into kindergarten without some of the basic skills I would generally expect, including being able to print their names, draw a person, and listen to a story. They have lower levels of stamina than I’ve experienced with past classes. Some students haven’t really experienced an adult authority figure in their lives, and are surprised that they need to follow the routines and structures of school.
We’ll be spending much of September learning to hold our pencils, write our names, and practice whole body listening. I’ll set aside my favourite beginning of the year books in favour of books with less text, so that we can build stamina, and experience that story time is one of the most exciting and magical times of the day. We’ll have far more movement breaks, and go outside more often. We’ll practice writing and drawing not only in the classroom, but on the sidewalks, rocks, and walls of the school, with chalk and water. We’ll keep working on getting into the habit of following routines, and celebrate the successes along the way.
I don’t think anything we’ll do in the next month will be Pinterest or blog worthy, but I guarantee one thing: at some point this year, I’ll be able to look back at the phenomenal growth I’ll have had the privilege of watching. And that will make it all worth it.