On the following day, I asked the toddlers why they were in school. The answers were varied, ranging from “ to learn and make friends” to “that’s what children should do”. Afterwards, I asked them what they want to learn. The answers were also varied. Most of them wanted “to learn to read and write”. Some wished to learn to draw and color. Others needed to “know everything” without elaborating. The common factor was everybody wanted to learn with enthusiasm.
I continued my dialogue with my pupils with these questions “why do you want to learn?” Some answered, “to have a job” or “to have money”. Few suggested to teach their younger siblings. Others remarked that their parents told them that their future will be good after studying.
The next question I threw at my students was “how they want me to teach them?” Some suggested telling story and writing on the board. Few hinted watching videos showing pictures or drawings. Others suggested playing or doing things.
Knowing what these “little devils” wanted and wished for, I devised my means of educating them considering their differences in perceptions, goals of learning and level of maturity. Because I could control their maturation or biological growth and development (Huitt, 2011), the best way to do was giving them guidance on their learning. Since this was first, I consulted a “co-teacher” for different approaches and modes of teaching. I borrowed her lesson plan from previous year. By the way, that lesson plan was intended for Grade 1 pupils. The last kindergarten teacher did not have lesson plan last year since kindergarten class was viewed as experimental and was not compulsory for admission to Grade 1.
The next day, I began my experiment. Since attention-getting was very hard for little kids, I told them at the beginning of the class that I will question them one by one before the closing of the class. Those who did not answer it correctly shall stay until he produced the correct answer.
In spite of this predetermined goal and anticipation, half of the class did not answer my simple question on the first day. However on the succeeding days, very few answered my question incorrectly. After a week, everybody got the correct answer especially when I added additional rewards like giving ten pieces of pad paper or 2 pieces of colored paper. By using this method of reward and punishment, my students became attentive in my class. They listened to my little lectures seriously because they did not know what will be my questions to them and from what subjects. Saul McLeod (2007) cited Burrhus Frederic Skinner that this introduction of reward as a consequence of good behavior is referred to as operant conditioning.
On teaching them different shapes and colors, I devised many ways for them to understand these concepts as simple as can be. Aside from drawing the basic shapes on the board, I asked them to pinpoint different shapes inside the classroom. I told them to close their eyes and imagine the shapes of what I was telling them, like the shape of an egg, a clock, a door, a toblerone or a coin. In one occasion, I told them to bring popsicle sticks and make the shapes that I was telling them. In this way, they knew how shapes were formed and why they were called square, triangle or rectangle.
In teaching colors, aside from showing a pre-made illustration board with different shapes and colors, I told them to name an object and tell its color. Green and yellow were associated with mangoes and papayas. The sky was blue and yellow was the sun. There were red and black ants. The flower was pink with green leaves. I did not stop from this show and tell things of different colors.
The next day, I told them to bring their crayolas and one piece of bond paper. Before the lesson proper, I told them about primary colors and secondary colors. Their wide eyes showed me that an alien thing was unfamiliar to them. I told them that primary colors are colors that cannot be produced by mixing two different colors. To illustrate, I asked them to bring out their red, yellow and blue crayolas and white paper. I asked one group to mix red and yellow and tell me what color was produced. Another group was asked to combine red and blue and the other to combine yellow and blue. After this experiment, my class learned that orange was produced by mixing red and yellow; violet was red and blue; and green was the combination of yellow and blue. To sum up, I told them that primary colors were basic colors and could not be obtained by combining any other colors. On the other hand, secondary colors were produced when 2 primary colors were mixed. My students learned by not only observing or perceiving but by experimenting.
At the end of the month, my lesson focused on the immediate environment of the students – that is, things that they saw inside the house and school. What do you see in a library? What are the things found inside the bedroom? To make them gain remarkable first hand experience, I asked the permission of the principal to allow me to bring these 32 kids to the house just across the streets after I got the nod of the owner two days ago. I got the permit and one by way, in a single line, we visited the house. The owner already expected us and accompanied the kids to the different parts of the house. After the visit, I asked my students what were the things they saw in the different parts of the house. Every body knew what they saw and where they were found. To reinforce their learning, I asked them to bring the next day, cut out pictures of the things they saw in the house, show them to and tell the class in what part of the house they were found.
By the way, I was teaching these toddlers using the vernacular, Filipino and English. In other words, instead of teaching them in only one medium of instruction, I combined them. One child showed a picture of bed pan. He told me that it was a basin (not the English pronunciation) in the local dialect. I told the class it was called arinola in Filipino and bed pan in English. An ant is langgam in Filipino and guyam in the local language. I used this method for them to know that different words may refer to the same thing.