Last year, I (Yiola) wrote several blogs about my Sylvia Clare’s first year of kindergarten. In Canada children begin school at four years of age, sometimes three, and they enter Junior Kindergarten (JK). The following year they are in Senior Kindergarten. So, my Sylvia Clare is in SK this year and my son, Gallaway, has begun JK. The school year started well. The children are happy. A few of my favourite things about early years schooling:
- Regular communication from the teacher — brought home in “zippies”
- A lot of outdoor exploration
- Weekly library visits — I am fascinated by my children’s choice of books!… Sylvia Clare tends to select “Fancy Nancy” books and Gallaway selects books about Dinos doing sports
- Uniforms — mornings are so easy
- White collared uniform shirts covered in paint at the end of the day
- Cereal boxes / tissue boxes with paper towel rolls (towers) poking out — every invention you can imagine
- Listening to my son sing songs learned at school
- Being given clear instructions with strong convictions – “Mommy, my teacher said so…”
- My favourite: Picking the children up at the end of the day to be greeted by big hugs and smiles
I know children learn enormous amounts in the early years — vocabulary, numeracy, inquiry, motor skill development — so much happens in a kindergarten classroom. For me, as a parent, what I am most concerned about is my child’s well being. That is, their happiness.
The other day, Sylvia Care brought a note home that was written by a classmate. It was an apology note. Sylvia Clare was teased at school and the child wrote her an apology. My initial reaction was that it was somewhat funny. I did not really think it was significant. The following day when I picked the children up from school I spoke to one of Sylvia Clare’s teachers and brought up the note. First I said, “Hysterical” and then I paused when I noticed the teacher not laughing. I asked the teacher if Sylvia Clare was genuinely upset. In a serious tone the teacher explained that she was. It was in that moment that I recognized how much respect the teacher had for her student. Acknowledging Sylvia Clare’s feelings and addressing her hurt made me appreciate her teacher even more. Valuing young learners and appreciating their feelings is just so very important. The problem was quickly resolved; Sylvia Clare felt her feelings were validated, and her dignity restored. And only then, when a child feels secure, can learning occur.
And so we begin our second year of the Early Years with confidence, resilience and excitement. I look forward to sharing, every now and then, the nuances of one FDK experience.
Gallaway and Sylvia Clare during their first week of school.