Everyone always says, “I wish I could go back to Kindergarten!”
That wish came true for me recently when I got to spend the day as a Kindergarten student here at Ravenscroft.
It was an exciting and busy day, filled with hard work and play.
My learning experiences were authentic, rich, and balanced— exactly what we hope for our youngest Ravens as they begin to develop their self-awareness as learners and build the foundation for long term success in school and beyond.
Here is a summary of my day with Mrs. Lewis’ class:
7:45-8:00 Table Time
The music was playing and students entered the classroom on their own after unpacking their belongings. We had a variety of activities to engage in with friends as we waited to start the day. I built addition and subtraction problems using magnetic numbers, and took turns solving the problems we created with a friend.
8:00-8:10 Morning Meeting
Everyone gathered on the rug to greet each other, hear about the day ahead, and complete calendar activities that reinforced several different math concepts. It was great to gather as a classroom community and get settled and prepared for everything we had planned for the day.
8:10-8:30 Writing Workshop
“Writers write to make the world better.” Mrs. Lewis set the stage for our writing time by reminding us WHY we were writing and what we were learning about in our persuasive writing unit of study. We had just enough time to complete our brainstorming, where we thought about a problem we had noticed in our community and possible ways to help solve it, before we had a special performance to see in Jones Theatre.
8:30-9:15 4th Grade Performance
Pirates! The Hidden Treasure was a wonderful display of talent and teamwork, and the message was so important for everyone to learn: The hidden treasure is inside each of us, and friendship is the greatest treasure of all!
Perfect timing for refueling to make sure I had the energy for more learning and fun. Mrs. Lewis reflected on the performance and shared her gratitude for how responsible and respectful we all were as audience members. She put a “fuzzy” in our class bucket because we filled the up the 4th graders’ buckets with our positive behavior.
9:30-10:00 Big Centers
Nothing better than play-based learning! Blocks, Technology, Housekeeping, Art, Construction, Books…so many choices! As we all explored in our learning centers, Mrs. Lewis met with individual students for writing conferences.
We were celebrating the culmination of our unit of study on Anansi the Spider and compared illustrations in books to pictures used in a video before we checked out new library books. Dr. Zayas and Mrs. Phelps had so many books for us to choose from!
Sunshine, movement, and socializing! I decided to explore in the sandbox while others played chase, soccer, and other fun games. One student summed it up perfectly when I asked him what he liked best about school, “Mostly kids just like to play!” Some of the most important learning comes from play-based experiences.
We got our hearts pumping while running around the track! Then we played a game that required us to listen, follow directions, and move our bodies in different ways. I especially appreciated the addition of music and the energy and excitement of Coach Roberts!
11:30-12:00 Writing Workshop
We returned to our writing project from the morning. Mrs. Lewis taught a mini lesson on the importance of including specific details and reasons in our persuasive writing pieces. She shared her own story about a time she was trying to solve a problem and then she modeled how she would write about it. It really helped me understand what she was asking us to do as writers of our own pieces.
12:00-1:15 Lunch/Rest/Reading Workshop
I had to step out of my role as student to complete some interviews, so unfortunately I missed this part of the day. After a 30 minute lunch, the students went back to their classroom for quiet time and were able to read individually, with partners, or in a small group with Mrs. Lewis.
Singing, playing instruments, and learning how to read and write different music notes. We covered a lot in a short amount of time. Mrs. O’Neill is a very patient teacher and certainly infuses fun and learning into music class.
2:00-2:50 Math Workshop
We spent this time learning about addition and subtraction. After a whole group mini-lesson that introduced different strategies for solving problems, we got to explore the strategies further by rotating through Math with a Partner, Math by Myself, and Math with a Teacher. This work included the use of iPads, manipulatives, and paper and pencil tasks.
2:50-3:00 Pack Up/Dismissal
I had to leave early so I missed the closure to the day:(
Some of my important reflections from the day included:
Nurturing, Safe, and Connected Community
Our teachers know our students well and care for them deeply. From the hugs and smiles to the questions they ask, it is clear they are committed to nurturing individual potential and making sure everyone feels included. I also noticed the connection and care from our older students. When we were walking in the hallways or passing each other outside, high fives and hellos were always shared no matter what the grade level. We even had an Upper School student in our classroom during the day working alongside us. I felt part of a larger community beyond just my Kindergarten classroom, and that community felt warm and safe.
Independence, Responsibility, and Accountability
Our students are empowered on their journeys and supported so they can be independent, responsible, and accountable along the way–even in Kindergarten. They learn early that the choices they make will have an impact on their experience and the other people in their community. The impact can be positive or negative depending on the actions and words we choose. Whether it is students managing the supplies in the classroom or making choices about how they will practice some of the concepts and skills taught, our students are clearly involved in decision making at an early age.
Balanced, Fun, and Busy
Reading, writing, math, music, library, recess, physical education, Big Centers, performance, and much more…all in one day! This day clearly illustrated for me the balance of our strong academic and play-based program that values the development of the whole child. It is certainly a busy and fun-filled experience!
Personalized and Intentional
All throughout the day, choice was included in my experience as well as a variety of instructional modalities. I also noticed how every moment of the day was filled with intentional instruction whether it was during a classroom lesson or while we were transitioning between activities. We learned as a whole group and we also received individual and small group instruction that was personalized to our specific needs and areas for growth.
A strong foundation is being created for our young learners and positive feelings and perceptions about school and learning in general are securely in place. Students enjoy coming to school each day and view learning as fun and challenging. They are able to identify and celebrate their strengths as well as honor and appreciate their areas for growth.
After spending the day as a Kindergarten student, I better understand why my own daughter grew so much last year as a young person and scholar. It is truly a unique program and I am proud to be a part of it!
We do indeed provide a learning environment for kids to be happy, successful, and good citizen-leaders, and I experienced it first-hand!
Take a look at this Storify link to see some of the pictures from my special day: Kindergarten #shadowastudent