Sponsored by Bethany School
Kindergarten teachers understand that little kids get squirmy and have loads of energy, so at Bethany School a kindergarten day has to include lots of, well, flexibility.
“Instead of ‘High School Musical,’ it’s ‘Kindergarten Musical!'” says Karen Gately, a kindergarten teacher at Bethany School, a private school for grades K – 8 in Glendale.
“We randomly break into song and dance around here,” she adds.
But the fun, songs and dance are not without meaning. A song is sometimes a good way to start the day and bring everyone together, says fellow kindergarten teacher Deanna Brooksbank. In fact, most activities that take place in the K classroom have real purpose behind them. Work doesn’t always look like work.
“It looks like playing, but it’s structured play, so there’s real learning going on,” she explains, describing a recent activity that looked like students were working on a puzzle but were in fact piecing together letters of the alphabet and learning their correct order.
ON THE MOVE!
“We hit all the subjects,” says Brooksbank, ticking off academics like science, reading and math. “This is not for the ‘faint-of-heart’ kindergartner! We will play, but there is work to do.” Whether a child’s in art, gym, music, science or reading, a kindergartner at Bethany is exposed to multiple teachers, multiple changes in scenery, and even multiple opportunities to “get out the wiggles” in order to help stay focused while having fun.
Recess is shared with first graders, so the children are around “big kids” as well as the teachers who will guide them next year. Dramatic playtime allows children to use their imaginations, but also learn how to cooperate with each other. “You can see it building compassion,” says Gately.
CREATING A SUCCESSFUL KINDERGARTNER
An enthusiastic teacher is key to creating a successful kindergarten — and lifelong — student.
“Kindergarten is like an unexpected adventure waiting to happen every day,” says Brooksbank. “You have to be flexible and see where the students take you — sometimes even physically … You just never know what is around the corner, and that’s what makes being a kindergarten teacher so exciting!”
“The student-teacher ratio is amazing here,” says Gately. “It makes my teacher heart happy!” Teaching a smaller class makes for less crowd management and more learning time — a critical factor in a young student’s success because it allows for more one-on-one time. Plus, teachers are free to meet individual needs. Bethany Kindergarten classes allow for a total of 15 children in each homeroom. With a few spots left, there is still time to enroll this year.
Combined with aides, learner support, and a lot of parent communication via phone in the classroom, apps, emails, and of course, personal meetings, Gately and Brooksbank are enthusiastic about their ability to prepare their students for when they get to be the “big kids” at recess.
All pictures courtesy of Bethany School.