Monday, October 26, 2015

Teaching Outside the Box or err.. Schedule

Mondays in preschool are not always the best. Yes, of course we start out the day with the best intentions and usually LIFE smacks us right in the gut.  The kids have missed their friends and everything is on loud and fast mode.   It's like they want to catch up all the conversations they didn't have over the weekend. Then there are others who are tired… really.. really tired. Weekends are hard.  Running here and there to see family , shop and make memories.  No one wants to waste precious time just sitting waiting on a preschooler to take a nap.  Yes,  Mondays are often hard.

Today was a different kind of Monday.

First lets talk how a preschool classroom is traditionally ran.  NORMALLY there is free play time and at some point in the morning a teacher , for sake of ease lets just call her Miss Control Freak from here out, calls everyone to clean up. That takes time. We finally get everything cleaned up and Miss Control Freak calls everyone to circle time. Which, lets be real… rarely is a circle. There are kids on their bellies. There are kid bumping into others. There are kids trying really hard to do criss cross applesauce but their little legs aren't ready for all that twisting. Then, if we are being really real.. someone is picking their nose.  So , Miss Control Freak gets everyone to circle and all the miserable children listen. It goes something like this .

Miss Control Freak: Lets sing a song !  LALALALAL  Sit up !  Dont touch your friends hair.  Don't play with the blocks. Dont lick his shoe….   LALALLALALALLALA…
Now, I'm gonna read you a book.   Ok.. I'll sit here until you are quiet.

( crickets)

Now that everyone is ready to listen ( and scared to make a sound ) I will read.

Once upon a time…… ( What do you  THINK is going to happen ? What color is the monkeys shirt ?   )  The end.

" Ok, you guys can go back to playing now.  "

As the children frantically race back to claim the spot Miss Control Freak caused them to lose in the first place by having circle time you hear " No ! I was not finished  ! I was in there !"

Children play and Miss Control Freak calls them down two at a time to do a small group activity at the table.. again causing them to stop all the learning that takes place during play.

DING DING DING !  Time for a science experience .  EVERYONE follow Miss Control Freak !

It never ends. Miss Control Freak is constantly asking us to stop what we are doing and do what SHE wants us to do.

Friday as I was cleaning a table one of my really sensitive little boys looked at me and said " Ms. Debbie, why is your face angry?"


Really.. do I look angry ?  Deep Breath ?  Does my face look angry ?  Why ? It has  not been a bad day..maybe a little hectic.   Sigh…..

If my day is hectic it is my own fault. I am the time keeper.  I am the control freak.

Today is Monday.

Today as the children were playing I took the IPOD down and I just sat down and started playing some music.  First two children joined me.  They just sat around me.  By the second song most of the children were with me.  They were singing . They were dancing.  They were laughing . They were loving.  Music.  It should be happy and simple. Right ?

As I realized I had most everyone with me I asked them could I tell them a story.  From memory I told them the story of Junior the spider.  With a little acting and some flair I was able to keep everyone's attention.  It was loverly.

That went well. I didn't demand  or even ask anyone to stop what they were doing and join me.

As I finished my story I noticed Ms Dallas had joined me.  ( Yes, my story telling skills are that good that she wanted to listen too. )   I said " I think Ms Dallas has a cool science experience to show you.  She rolled straight into " Little Miss Muffet " and asked the kids did they know what curds and whey was .  They replied no.  THEN LETS GO FIND OUT !
And they did.

I know they loved it since later I walked in to find them reenacting the story with friends.  Who knew spiders GROWL !

Lets try something else.

Usually when I  do a graph or chart something I plan  small groups.  Today I picked up my marker board and started walking around to each child and asking them " are you afraid of spiders ?" It worked. They continued what they were doing . An added benefit was that not every child had the same answer. See.. when Miss Control Freak does this in a group the kids tend to all say the same thing. It's called preschool peer pressure.

After graphing , I just set the board up so they could look at it at their leisure.

Reading still took place. I read them books while they were eating breakfast and lunch.   I asked first " May I read you an awesome story I like ?" When a child seemed to wander and was still I would ask could I read them a book.

My friend didn't ask me today why my face looked angry .  I was more relaxed.   I know the kids benefit more from uninterrupted play .  

This is what preschool in my world should look like.  I think I'll try it again tomorrow.  Miss Control Freak just might lose her job.