Francie Rogers: Kindergarten

Many of you have been asking, “How is the year going?”  “Are you enjoying your new position?”

 After spending the last two weeks visiting almost all the pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade classes and reading the children’s book Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, I must admit I love my job!

 Despite reading the same book close to 25 times in two weeks, the variety of experiences due to the age of the group and personality of the class made for an interesting learning experience for me.  The pre-Kindergarten students were laughing so hard every time I started to sing Pete’s song that I am not sure they even heard much of the message.  The fifth graders amazed me with their attentiveness during the read aloud and ability to immediately discuss with their peers the deeper level of the message and how it could relate to their own lives.  Even during this short read aloud, I was able to tell which second graders were already making inferences and transitioning away from the concrete thinking that characterizes many of our first graders and Kindergarteners; some of these kiddos thought the book was simply about what to do if your shoes got dirty.

 To give you a brief summary of the book, Pete is a pretty cool cat that experiences some tricky situations when he over and over again steps into different piles of stuff that change the color of his shoes.  Pete loves his shoes, but he finds a way to “keep walking along and singing his song” despite the hardships he faces.

 I didn’t realize the impact Pete the Cat would have on our student body and Lower School faculty until people started coming up to me days after the readings to share stories of how they had used Pete’s message to get through something tricky.  I thought it would just be a fun book that would make kids laugh while teaching a lesson at the same time.  I had no idea it would possibly build a framework and common language for solving problems for the rest of the year.

 Here are just a few of the stories shared with me in the past few days:

  • Mr. John Fielder, 5th grade science teacher:

“I enjoyed Pete the Cat. When the maintenance men used bleach to clean the roof of the Middle School Gym and it ended up in the vegetable garden rain barrels and I watered the corn with it …. I said, I love my white corn, I love my white corn.” 

  • Mrs. Eileen Price, 4th grade teacher:

“I have to tell you about what happened in class today.  A student was having a rough day; his papers had gotten all wet and dirty when he unknowingly placed them on a table with water on it, and then when he went to put something back in his binder, all his papers fell to the floor.  I quickly started singing, “I love my empty binder, I love my empty binder,” and the student joined the singing and a smile spread across his face.  I love the message in Pete’s book.”

  • Josh Kesterson and Cole Bell, pre-Kindergarten students:

“Can you please read that cat book again?  The one with the funny cat who sings that funny song?  We really love it and want to hear it again! Please!”

  • Francie Rogers, Kindergarten student:

“Can I tell you what happened at lunch today? I was trying to open my lunch box and couldn’t get the zipper open. When I pulled really hard it broke. I really love this lunchbox, but I remembered the Pete the Cat book and I said everything would be fine and I was fine, too!”

 These stories are just a sampling of how our students and teachers are using Pete’s message to help them get through their own tricky situations.  Josh and Cole’s story was included to demonstrate how even our youngest Ravens are passionate about reading when they are engaged and excited about the text being read.

 Two big take-away lessons for me after this experience:

1)     Do not underestimate the power of your words either in written or verbal form; they have the potential to leave a lasting imprint on the heart of a child. Make sure the impression is a positive one.

2)     Children develop differently and at their own pace; pay close attention to the needs of each child and adjust your teaching accordingly.

 I hope you will help take Pete’s message to heart and help encourage your children to “keep walking along and singing their song” when they face tricky situations at home.

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