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Home » Reflections, Insights, and Realizations » How Kindergarten Students Learn and How I Teach Them – 1/3

How Kindergarten Students Learn and How I Teach Them – 1/3

Part 1

Before migrating to Australia in 2005, I was requested by the school principal in our barangay’s elementary school in San Antonio, Quezon, to temporarily teach students in the kindergarten class., I was hesitant at first because I have no prior experience formally teaching youngsters, especially in that age group – 5 to 7 years old – although I used to tutor some of my wife’s nephews, nieces and neighbors. I love children and I want to share my knowledge (in contradiction to Huitt’s view on teaching) the prospect of teaching them scared me primarily because they are always referred to as “little devils”. Nonetheless, I accepted the challenge after the principal assured me that it was only temporary and from persuasion from my relatives and neighbors whose children were entering kindergarten. Bear in mind that I did not study psychology in college nor had education units.

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On the first day, after the usual flag ceremony, my 32 kindergarten students, some of whom were accompanied by their mother, quietly entered the room. I could see the surprise on some of these youngsters’ faces when they found out who was in front of the class. After the greeting and while they were sitting on their chairs, I introduced myself. I told them my full name, my nickname and my parents’ name. Afterwards, I told them to introduce themselves. Without telling them what to say about themselves, 84.4% of them stated their name, nickname and parents’ name, just exactly what I said a while ago. Three just voiced out their names and nicknames and were ashamed to tell the names of their parents. Two did not stand at all – one was teary-eyed constantly looking outside for her mother and the other just quietly sitting still.

After the introduction, I told these “kinders” (I do not know if this word is already entered in the English dictionary as we always heard this line in our vernacular: “Napasok na si  Totoy, kinder na siya!) to stand up which they quietly obliged. My aim was to arrange their sitting arrangement. Instead of the usual grouping of boy and boy, girl and girl, according to height or grades in some grade level as instructed by teacher, I told them to personally choose their seatmate. I saw a glow in their faces when I said that. Immediately, they chose their own “partners”.  I paired those few pupils who could not choose their seatmates according to their sexes. After that, I arrange them according to height and told them to sit. I did this task so that my students shall be comfortable with their study and eliminated some barriers.

Just after the sitting arrangement, I told them to get their pad paper and pencil and write their names. I told them to write their names repeatedly until they reached the last line of the paper. Sitting on my chair in front of them, I unconsciously observed them. I noticed a student who was restless and kept on standing. Most were busy and quietly writing. The one who kept on looking outside for her mother did nothing. Few were talking to their seatmates while writing. After 10 minutes, I collected the papers for evaluation. I noticed that some had good penmanship I found out later that they had entered nursery class or attended daycare center before. This observation suggests that these pupils learned because they were exhibiting a relatively permanent change in behavior or skill as a consequence of previous experience or practice as  suggested by William G. Huitt (2011). Few were struggling to write their full name; especially those who had three to four given names (Blame it to their parents!). Two or three needed some improvement: the names were written too big or too small and/or not properly spaced. Watching these papers suggested that I might have daily headache ahead of me.

Just before dismissal, I returned the papers to my students with remarks as “Very Good” or “Good”. To those who did not write well, I gave them a nicely written penmanship of their names and told them to copy them on 2 sheets of paper. For the one who did not do anything, I approached her mother and asked them both what seemed to be the problem. It turned out that this was the first time that the daughter was with other children and she was a bit scared. I told the mother to continually accompany her child until such time that she overcame her fear and had harmonious relationship with other kids.

Image from http://www.brightschool.com/www/docs/100


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