Friday, December 13, 2013

Not Just for Kindergarteners

On Thursdays, I head to the elementary school to read with the kindergarteners. Actually, they read to me, and if they need help, I walk them through sounding out the word or recognizing sight words. I enjoy spending this time with each of the children, sitting on a folding chair in the hallway. I can see when the light turns on in their head or when a burst of confidence surges through them. I hope that they will remember the lady who took the time to help them learn to read, and then, when they are older, do the same thing for someone else.

Another cool thing about being with the kindergarteners each week is seeing how the teacher interacts with them, and what her teaching methods are. Melina is the first of our children to have Mrs. R., but her reputation precedes her. In fact, I will admit to hoping that we be put in her room (and let me also admit that we loved the other option; she was a good teacher for our other kids). I had my reasons, only one of which is that Melina had just turned five in July. Another one is that I feel Melina's learning style was more in line with what I had heard was Mrs. R.'s teaching style. Almost two full quarters in and I can say, with confidence, that Melina is learning by leaps and bounds and enjoys going to school every day.

But of course, I just got distracted. What I wanted to say was that by being in the classroom, I get to see what Mrs. R. does. Yesterday, one of her lessons was the concept of enough. It was supposed to be a math lesson, but since I'm no longer five, I walked away with an entirely different way of looking at what Mrs. R. had to say. Either way, it worked.

"Do we have enough gingerbread men?" Mrs. R. asked the kids. "If we have six friends standing here [she calls all the students friends instead of students, or pupils, or kids], and we have four gingerbread men, are there enough? Pass them out and let's see."

Mrs. R. chose another child to pass out the construction sheet cookies to the friends who were standing.

"Let's see," she said. She let the children who were seated process what was in front of them. Many of the children were counting to themselves and it was easily apparent, because they could see the children standing in front of them, whether or not everyone had a cookie. "Oh no. We don't have enough, do we? And how many more do we need?" she asked.

The kids figured out that they needed two more gingerbread men in order to have enough. "Of course, 4 + 2 equals 6."

I was supposed to be taking each of the children, in their turn, out to the hallway, but when I was listening to the lesson, my mind wandered a little. It got me thinking about enough, which is completely appropriate to think of at this time of the year. Do we have enough? Of course my family does. We have enough and then some. We have more than enough space in our house; we have money in the bank, food on the table, clothes spilling out of the closets, and two running cars. I have time to volunteer and work on my books and enough time to sit and write this blog post. We have love and courage and hope and a positive attitude, which sometimes, we hope is enough.

Go ask yourself if you have enough. I'm not going to tell you what to do with your extras if you do, indeed, have enough, or more than enough. But I can at least encourage you to be grateful. I know I am. And this year, I'm especially thankful for Mrs. R. I wonder if she knows she's not just teaching the kindergarteners.

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