Teaching Kindergarten: ABC’s, 123’s, and OMG’s!

 

And by O.M.G., I mean oh my goodness! 😉

We are a rare breed. We dry homesick tears, patch skinned-up knees and elbows, supervise two restrooms at once, and tie millions of shoes. We soothe troubled children and we soothe troubled parents. We make sure no one has “snack” for “lunch”, we say get a vegetable twenty times, we open water bottles, chip bags, and milk cartons, and then we wolf our food down like starving animals because we have ten minutes left to eat. We sing. We dance. We act like goofy goofballs to get our kiddos excited about school. We monitor. We lead the line. We run sometimes when we have a “flight risk”. We cry. We hug. We listen. We assess. We plan. We mentor. And while we are doing all of this, we teach.

We are Kindergarten teachers.

I’ve been teaching K-5 now for ten years, and while I am by no means what I’d consider a “seasoned” teacher, I think I have enough experiences in my back pocket  to compile a list of things that my fellow kindergarten and preschool teachers can appreciate. The list is not exhaustive, and I’d love it if any other Kindergarten or pre-K teachers would contribute in the comment section below!

ABC’s

  • Appreciate- Here are some things that Kindergarten teachers appreciate.
    1. Bathroom breaks (for adults)
    2. Being called by name, rather than “Teacher” by our sweet kindergarten friends
    3. Garbage bags, and really any classroom donation at any time
    4. A phone call or email when your child tells you something crazy that happened at school…call or email before jumping to conclusions and we’ll work it out together!:)
    5. Occasional “duty free” lunches
    6. Parents who are patient with us 🙂
    7. Winning grants for classroom resources
    8. Our students–they are our closest five year old friends for 10 months of the year!
  • Believe- Here are some things that I personally believe Kindergarten teachers should always do.
    1. Talk nicely to students. They may be five years old, but they are people, and they deserve to be spoken to nicely like everyone else.
    2. Open their food packages if they ask you to. This is my personal belief and it may not be shared by all K teachers. Yes, I think when a child asks his or her teacher to help open a milk carton, the teacher should help the child. This is a good opportunity to help the child learn to open it himself or herself by modeling and helping, instead of fussing and telling them to get a friend to do it. I always go down the line and ask my kids what needs opening before I sit down to eat. And let me just say, tiny mustard packages are the pits. I can’t even open those suckers!
    3. Listen. This is something I have had to learn and I am still working on. Listening to a five year old talk about their baby puppy (which may or may not be real) for the fifth time is hard for me to do when I’ve got a jillion things bumbling around in my mind. But listening to my children has helped me develop relationships that I strongly believe have cut down on discipline problems in my classroom. I’ve also learned the importance of listening to parents. Who knows the child better than his or her parents?
    4. Pray. As a Christian, I pray for my children every day. I pray for our daily plans and commit them to the Lord. He takes care of us and makes our days bright.
  • Confessions-Here are some confessions from this Kindergarten teacher.
    1. One time during my student teaching, I taught a whole class the greater than and less than symbols backwards. I did a whole lesson, ya’ll, and it was engaging and fun, and it was wrong. Those poor third graders. And now, I have moved down to a safer level of learning, Kindergarten. 😉 (We fixed it, by the way!)
    2. Sometimes during my small group instruction time, I just sit in my chair and let the kids talk to me the entire time instead of blending and segmenting phonemes. It’s usually their favorite thing to do.
    3. I used to think that Kindergarteners wouldn’t be able to “read” to themselves and be engaged for ten to twelve minutes while I taught small groups, so I gave them lots of busy work that was meaningless. Now, I believe in them and show them how to read “even when you don’t know the words” and they love reading their favorite books.

123’s

  • 1 Thing to Do Every Day
    1. Speak to each child in your room. Look in their eyes, smile at them, and speak to them. Every day.
  • 2 Things to Never Ask A Kindergarten Teacher…Please
    1. “Did you actually have to go to college to teach kindergarten? For, like, two years? No? Four years, seriously?” Yes, seriously. And many K teachers that I know have a Master’s Degree, and Education Specialist Degree, or a Doctorate Degree. Seriously.
    2. “So what do you do for the rest of the day since you don’t work all day?” Well, I’m on official duty from 7:25-3:25, which is 8 hours. Then, I stay and prepare for the next day for however long it takes. I’d say that’s a full day’s work!:)
  • 3 Things That Make Me Come Back to School Every Day
    1. Watching the lightbulb come on for a child who is learning to read and remembering that this child didn’t know how to hold a pencil, sit crisscross, or push in his chair at the beginning of the year.
    2. Seeing a parent cry happy tears when they read their child’s scribbly message and for the first time it makes sense. “I luv yoo. Yoo r gud perents.”
    3. Getting a hug and happy “Bye! I’ll see you later!” from my five year old friends. I’ll be back tomorrow for sure.

OMG’s

  • Oh my goodness, did that just happen in my room?
    1. We hear a ringing sound, and a child goes and pulls a cell phone out of her backpack. “It’s my sister, Mrs. Givens. Hold on, let me talk to her.” Sure. Just let me know when you’re done. Alrighty, then.
    2. A mouse falls out of the ceiling. Yikers. Pandemonium. Mostly from me.
    3. On a nature walk in the park, we get chased by two black snakes. Again, pandemonium, and it’s mostly from me.
    4. One child has a potty accident, one throws up, and one has an asthma attack. All three simultaneously.
  • Oh my goodness, did that child just say that to me?
    1. Uh, Mrs. Givens, you’ve got a nut in your whistle (referring to the ball that gives the whistle it’s sound).
    2. Mrs. Givens, there are water fountains in the boys’ bathrooms! They’re on the wall!
    3. My mother freaked out when I said you were 22 Mrs. Givens (during my first year).
    4. You are so old, Mrs. Givens. You’ve got to be at least in 6th grade.
    5. I just want to go see my pet lizard. No, he’s not at home. He’s in my backpack. In a Cheeze-Itz box.
    6. Mrs. Givens, what if you were my mommy? Wouldn’t that be good?
  • Oh my goodness, that’s the sweetest thing in the world. It’s why I’m a kindergarten teacher.
    1. Saying “packpack” instead of “backpack”
    2. Saying “cuvvy” for “cubby”. They all do it.
    3. Saying “Gave” for “Gabe”. Again, they all do it.
    4. Watching my kids grow into a classroom community…helping each other, loving each other, being responsible for our classroom belongings.
    5. Hearing my kids tell me that I’m pretty, funny, and smart. Hearing them tell me they love me.

I thank the Lord for helping me to make my days with my students count. I thank Him for helping me to take every minute I’m given and use it for the good of my precious friends. I thank Him for my fellow Kindergarten teachers, who understand certain things that no one else but the Lord can understand. I thank Him for the privilege to spend my days doing what I love in a wonderful, magical, beautiful place called Kindergarten.

card

No song tonight. My fellow K and pre-K teachers, give me a shout out and let me know some of your special and crazy stories! Be blessed!

 

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32 Responses to Teaching Kindergarten: ABC’s, 123’s, and OMG’s!

  1. Jennifer says:

    I know some very blessed children who are in your class. I do not have a degree, but I taught preschool for several years. I was better at it towards the end than I was at the beginning. I loved every day of it. Never once did I dread going to work. I love running into kids who are teenagers now and still remember me. One of the best things about it was having a little “fan club” everyday when I went into work.

  2. Katlin says:

    Confession: I had a sweet friend run up to me in the lunchroom today and say “Hey Mrs. Givens, I love your singing!” and no I didn’t correct her! 🙂

  3. Cheryl says:

    those days when you have said don’t, quit and stop what seems like five bazillion times and you feel like your just about to lose it then the kids get ready to leave for the day and come running to give you a big hug and say…I’m sorry I wasn’t listening to you today but I love you and I’m going to be better tomorrow! It makes what has seemed like a not so good day, feel like a great one!

    and when at the beginning of the year a child has no idea what a Bible is much less what a Bible verse is or what prayer is or what it means….and by the end of the year…they are quoting scripture and having the most heartfelt talks with Jesus you’ve ever heard.

    there are so so many to share but these are just a couple of my thoughts…

  4. Jamie Hampton says:

    A child sees you outside of school, having them explain who you are to family members and give you a big hug before leaving you. Priceless…

  5. ConnieTuck says:

    Wow I have so many. I remember one day last year the children were writing in their journals and I was sitting back and watching them. The conversation that was taking place made my heart leap with joy and pride. One little girl said quietly that “Mrs. Tuck always says do your best. So if we don’t do our best we can’t go to first grade.” Needless to say, they all agreed and did a terrible job in their writing journals. Oh how I felt the love from my little friends.
    Another time was when I was reading a story one of my boys passed gas (very loud sound affects). As I looked out at my children whose eyes were all huge and trying not to laugh, I finally looked at my little friend and told him that was a good one. Roars of laughter could be heard all through the school after that. Of course, I continued my story, as if nothing happened.
    And there is the time a little one crawls in your lap and starts to cry because she is missing her friend that went to heaven to be with our Heavenly Father. My heart was crying but I willed my eyes not to shed tears for the sake of this child. We would share stories of our little angel and we both would feel better. We did this on a weekly bases. Every book she wrote in class was about her special friend that went to heaven.
    Like I said, I have many stories but I will stop here.
    Love you dear friend.

    • Paige Givens says:

      Thank you Connie. I love your heart.

    • Becky A says:

      You also did that for a sweet child who lost a daddy. I can’t imagine how strong you had to be with the help of Jesus!!!

      • ConnieTuck says:

        Only God can give you that strength. Your heart cries out but the tears remain in the eyes. I went home and cried many days and even months. To know my little friends suffered a lost was almost unbearable but I totally rely on my Heavenly Master. My little friends are gifts from God each year that he entrust me with. Actually, all of us that are teachers should always feel honored and blesses that God has given us the greatest job, a hard job, a job that takes all your energy out of you but none of us would trade it for any thing else. I work with the best Christian teachers who truly love their little friends. Love you all. Thanks Becky.

  6. That was fun, Paige. I wish my children and grand children could have been in your class. You have a great vocation/ministry. 🙂

  7. Sylvia Kennedy says:

    Last year I had taken a set of identical twin boys to the bathroom ( you know who I’m referring to). The other boys in the bathroom would look at them and ask me if they were brothers. I would giggle and say not only are they brothers they are twins. The reaction of those boys was priceless.

    • Paige Givens says:

      Haha! Yes! Thank you for sharing.:) I have a twin this year and when I see his identical brother in the hall, I get startled and say “What are you doing out here?” and then I realize it’s the wrong brother!

  8. Tabitha says:

    Last year around Christmas time I was over 8 months pregnant. As we were talking about baby Jesus a little girl asked if Mary had baby Jesus in her belly like me, then another child asked, how’d that baby get in your belly…before I could even say anything a little boy said “it’s magic”! 🙂 I told him he was absolutely correct…now let’s move on LOL 🙂 there’s never a dull moment that’s for sure. We definitely have been blessed with the greatest job on earth!

  9. Beverly Anderson says:

    28 years of K…where do I start? my very first year the children were running wild and I sat everyone down for a heart to heart: “I just got out of college and my teachers told me that my students would listen to me, use soft voices and be kind to each other.” Brandi raised her hand and didn’t give me the heartfelt apology I expected when she said, “They lied to you didn’t they Mrs. Anderson!!”
    I took away a paper clip from a child one day while I was teaching and told them Mr. Anderson had one last night that I took away from him too while we were watching TV (a common teacher response to forget that you are not the teacher of other adults in real life) and they asked me sincerely, “Did you have to move Mr. Anderson’s pin?”
    After hearing a minister from our church give an inspiring speech about leadership at an elementary program and telling the children that Jesus was the best leader of all time when he humbled himself they listed what they had learned for me to write on the board: “Jesus washed the RECYCLABLES feet!”
    Beverly Anderson

  10. Donna Carr says:

    Worst thing I ever did–leave a sweet little boy (of course, he was in time out for some reason) in time out while we went to lunch. He had a twin next door and he got to do lunch with him that day .Best thing I ever did–took my class to my house -two blocks away, for snack one day. We had read “My Teacher Sleeps at School” and they really thought I did. My husband was there for the occasion and they got to see my bed, my bathroom, my t.v.–all the important things. Such fun.

  11. Love how you have outlined this article Paige, such a pleasure to read. You have a beautiful heart, and wow, what a ministry to pray for your precious little ones entrusted to you.
    Have not got any kindergarten teacher stories, just that I admire you Paige for all the work you do.
    My oldest daughter is training to be a kindergarten teacher (something she has had her heart set on for many years). In her final year at university (4th year Early Childhood Education), and in Canada, 2 years of Teachers College is also required. (3 years done, and 3 years to go)
    Thank you for writing this. Will be passing it on to my daughter. Some days she is overwhelmed with exams and essays, she wonders, “Is it going to be worth it”. Yes it will be. May the Lord bless you Paige!

    • Paige Givens says:

      Thank you! And yes, it is so worth it! I have a masters degree in early childhood education, 6 years of college total, and I’d do it all again to get to do my job. Some days I sit back and think “Wow. I’m getting paid for this.” And then some years I have to remind myself of the joys and that yes, it is worth the stress and tears! God calls certain people to certain things, and the rewards are worth the hard work!!!
      I heard a K teacher say “There are special jewels on a crown for K teachers. Well, my jewels walk through my door every day.”
      Blessings to you and your family. I will pray for your daughter as she begins this wonderful journey!

  12. Kathleen says:

    Paige, you are doing such an important honorable job. What a blessing you are to your kindergarten students! You bring back wonderful memories when I was an assistant pre-school teacher to 3 and 4 year olds. You can really see glimpses of miracles in the children who touch our hearts.

  13. Laura May says:

    This is just what I needed to become inaspired and motivated as another school year approaches quickly. You are awesome and your students are lucky to have you.

  14. Amy Pressler says:

    I have taught preK for several years and I pray they are a blessing to their kindergarten teachers when they make the big transition. One of my best memories is of a little guy who was at our school for 3 years — his family has been with us for many more. He brought the class snack one morning and his mom told me he wasn’t crazy about her super-nutritious non-fat low-sugar banana muffins. Two hours later, when it was his turn to pray before snack, I asked what he wanted to pray for. His answer: “A different snack.”
    As you wrote, it is rewarding beyond belief. And it is definitely a calling.

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