Oh to go back to simpler times….
Kids grow up so fast. It feels like just yesterday I was blowing goodbye kisses in the school yard, or standing at the corner waving until the bus disappeared around the bend. Now I watch from the front door and say a silent prayer as my firstborn drives away with his newly-licensed friends (Eek! When did this happen??)!
I think back to how emotional it was to leave my little humans for whom I had been their entire universe, in the care of educators that I met on only a handful of occasions: Will the teachers understand how sensitive he is? Will the other kids ‘get’ her quirky sense of humour? How will potty time go without the comfy step-stool and familiar book?? I only half-believed the yard supervisor whose hand replaced mine in that tiny little grip when she assured this worried mom that everything would be fine! Would it? What happens after my backpacked baby files into line and disappears behind school doors without me??
Enter Mary Day-Mauro! As an Elementary Curriculum Consultant at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board, Mary spends a lot of time in the classroom supporting Kindergarten through Grade 8 Classroom Teachers and Designated Early Childhood Educators. In this month's conversation with Chantelle, Mary provides a unique perspective on what Kindergarten is like, and offers parents and caregivers a glimpse into what comes next.
Chantelle: I know many parents, as they're sending their littlest children off to Kindergarten, sometimes worry about them missing home or missing family when they're in class for a day. What do you say to those parents whose child may have tears going into the classroom . . . after that door closes, what does it look like?
Mary: We want caregivers to know that they’re in a safe environment. They’ll have lots of feelings - and yes, sometimes there is emotion. We will acknowledge how they feel and gently move them to a different mindset. We might ask them what things would you like to do today that they can go home and tell mommy about?” . . . And you know what - they’ll come back the next day ready to engage again - they will want to play, wonder and be curious! Before you know it they will be independent, co-creators who are learning in a place that is put together especially for them.
Chantelle: Would you walk us through what learning looks like in Kindergarten?
Mary: Oh gosh- it’s amazing . . . their work is play! We hear that Kindergarten is play-based learning, and that doesn't mean that we just "put stuff out and let them play". The Kindergarten classroom is a pretty dynamic, amazing place, and is all of the activities and materials you find there are very, very intentional: the classroom will be filled with things that are meant to connect to the childrens' interests, their curiosities, their wonderings . . . and we get to wonder along with them!
Chantelle: Mary, with your experience in Kindergarten classes, if you could give our parents and caregivers a "fly-on-the-wall" look into the classroom, what would you want them to notice?
Mary: I want them to notice how dynamic the room is, and notice how the children are building and constructing and thinking. . . How they're engaging and exploring and creating!
And I want them to see and to know just how capable their child is - constantly solving problems and figuring things out in this cheerful and safe place!
Oh to go back to kindergarten… such a fun and exciting time! Imagine how much care and intention goes into preparing that space for play and learning that I still fondly remember my kindergarten teachers and classrooms forty-something years ago!
Join Mary and our host, Chantelle Quesnelle at Beyond the Bell podcast for a deeper look into what kindergarten learning looks like after you’ve blown that last kiss goodbye!