A lovely sunny weekend ended our brief Easter Holiday and then the second term started with Rainy Day Procedure! But this did not dampen the spirits of my young learners who entered the classroom with their usual enthusiasm and bursting to tell me their news. At my school we go to great lengths to welcome the kids back. We write a welcome message on the board, set out new stationery on their desks and each one gets a colourful welcome back card and a treat of some sort. This time it was a marshmallow Easter Egg. I once said to my grandsons who are now well established in High School, ‘I don’t think they even notice the trouble we go to – they just glance at the card, gobble the sweets and that’s that!” Oh no – they declared – We loved the first day of term and those messages, cards and treats made us feel special. We miss that in High School! (So there Grumpy Teacher!)
Well – my girls made me feel rather special too – they all insisted that they’d missed me and said that school was much nicer than the holidays. That’s Grade 1 for you!
Right from the start we got stuck into good old fashioned hard work. We have finished our prepared handwriting booklets and on Monday we begin to write on 17mm lines in our big books! The girls can’t wait. Our topic this term is My Family and we are learning about what a family tree is. Watch this space to see our projects on this turn out!
Up until now most of our oral work has been sharing in care circles and telling news. We took this to a new level earlier this week. They were told to look at a sequence of pictures in their Language workbooks and in pairs make up a story of at least three good clear sentences. By working cooperatively they had to agree on how the story would then be presented orally to the teacher. My expectation was that I would get three simple sentences – The dog chased the cat. The cat ran up the tree. A boy rescued the cat. They had 5 noisy minutes to prepare but when I stopped them – they said – no we need more time. Okay another 3 minutes. Well, I was (not for the first time) blown away with what they came up with. Each pair presented a preamble about why the dog chased the cat, described what the cat felt like, explained what the dog did when the cat got up the tree, and elaborated on how the boy discovered the cat up the tree and his method of rescue. The great this was that each story was completely different.
I believe that if you give the children free rein to use their creativity, to let them share ideas and give them time to put it all together they come up with more than you expect. The classroom does not always have to be a hushed place of concentrated work. So if you pass my classroom and hear a bit of a commotion – don’t judge the teacher for her lack of discipline – No – It’s Little Geniuses at work!
In Afrikaans we have been learning the story of ‘Die Drie Klein Varkies’ The girls love it and enjoy repeating the bits like “‘ Hy klop aan die deur. Varkie, Varkie, Laat my in. Nee, nee, nee! Dan sal ek blaas en blaas en blaas etc.
But the other day they begged – Please can we have it in English! “But you know The Three Little Pigs in English,” I said. “Surely you don’t want it again!’ “Yes we do,”they insisted. It was the end of the day so I decided to Google and find a video clip to make it more interesting. I was delighted to see that in spite of all the stuff they’re exposed to today 6 and 7 year-olds still love the traditional tales that we all enjoyed as children. Just look at the wonder and delight on their faces at the antics of the piggies and that big bad wolf!
As a teacher it is very important for me to meet my learners’ parents. Parentline afforded me the opportunity of discovering how they are coping with their child’s first term at school. I found out whether or not they had picked up anxieties, problems with making friends, resistance to homework or any other issues. It was also rewarding to hear that their children are happy, love coming to school and love their teacher. It was good meeting with my girls’ parents last week. It was great sharing with them how I found their children in class. It was good to see their reaction and thrill that their girls were progressing well at their own pace. I had the opportunity to show them the right way to help with homework and to put their minds at rest that we would give intervention where it was needed. Ten minutes is not a lot of time but it is surprising how much you can pack into it. When my interviews were done, I felt good. My girls have great parents and I have gained better insight into each of my girls, the better to enable me to move forward with them. It is going to be a great term!