Once a week I volunteer in my son's kindergarten class. I signed up because I wanted to be involved and help out, but I look forward to it each week because it's fascinating to observe the class in action. If you've ever wondered what it's really like in a kindergarten class, read on for the five most surprising things I've discovered.
1. Teaching kindergarten is more difficult than herding cats. The kids are constantly interrupting or causing distractions. The teacher will have to stop several times in the middle of a short sentence to ask a child to stop wiping their snot on their neighbor, hear a random story from someone's weekend and field bathroom requests. Amazingly, the kids still seem to learn and retain a vast amount of information. And my son's fabulous teacher handles all the chaos with a great sense of humor and the patience of a saint.
2. You would likely be embarrassed by some of the things your kid does. There has been more than one time that I've wanted to shout at my child from my work station at the back of the room "PAY ATTENTION!" or "SIT UP!" All of the kids, even those who rarely create an interruption, do weird stuff all the time. They argue over supplies, police each other's actions or ask for a tissue and proceed to use the entire box.
All of the kids, even those who rarely create an interruption, do weird stuff all the time.
3. If your child has a particularly difficult child in their class they may already be learning the tough life lesson that things are not always fair. All of the children in my son's class are expected to sit quietly and respectfully on their carpet square for morning lessons and remain at their desk until their seat work is completed later in the day. All of the children except for one. This child simply refuses to comply and the teacher is forced to carry on and teach without this student sitting in her place. The other kids in the class don't seem to mind that the rules are different for this student but as a parent I am always a little surprised.
4. Kindergarten is a lot different from when we attended. There is a massive amount of learning in kindergarten today. The teacher breaks up class with lots of singing, dancing, and art but there is still a whole lot of sitting and worksheets for these wiggly little guys to work through. It seems to me that kindergarten has a lot more structure than it used to: more scholastics and less play. Although in fairness, my memory of kindergarten is fuzzy at best and I volunteer during the most academically rigorous part of the day.
5. A great teacher is an amazing thing. If your child has a wonderful teacher they deserve a heartfelt thank you note, a case of wine and a hefty raise. Every week I leave class in awe of my child's teacher. I could never do her job with the level of patience and enthusiasm that she brings to class everyday. I always thought teaching kindergarten would be a fun job, now I know it takes a very special person to pull it off without pulling their hair out.