kindergarten

10. Tantrummy Fits with Clean-Up Time

delfi-de-la-rua-157488I got the opportunity to run my own classroom downstairs where I work with 6-7 children for about 3 hours, 5 days a week. It may not seem like a lot of time with them, but for me it is. These moments are filled with spontaneous activity, new ideas, activities, discussions, learning – every day is new and unpredictable, so in a way I have to roll with it yet keep to a structure as best as I can.

Something interesting came up today, was from my fourth day working here I noticed the tendency of not wanting to bother to ask or request or tell the kids they need to clean up after themselves. I just didn’t want to – I was too damn scared. I was too scared for the idea and the reality of possibility facing their cries, their resistances, their temper tantrums, their ”no’s…” because I have encountered this, there are certain children who have developed the perfect tonality and expression and behavior to manipulate adults to get their way, and I’m one of those adults who have not been able to as of yet find a way to stand through the manipulation and temper tantrums. I have instead cowered to this fear and did the dirty work myself as I allowed me to clean up after them while they read, talked, drew pictures.

This is exactly how my mother treated me – she did everything for me, I didn’t do a lick of work and perhaps this is because my mom knew if she had me do chores and errands I would throw emotional tantrummy fits, manipulating to get my way. Funny how life works this way where I am now in my mother’s position acting just like her.

How do I change this?

  1. When I go back to the classroom I am going to hold a circle time right before we need to do our chores/clean up tasks and explain why we need to clean up, the importance of it, how it supports everyone, how it builds character, etc.
  2. Second is to work on my own fears of being manipulated by children / people – cause if I am being manipulated I am still brainwashed – only people who are not brainwashed do not get swayed in their minds with emotions and thoughts but know exactly who they are and what they stand for. This means I am still allowing my own thoughts and emotions to manipulate me instead of understanding why I so easily succumb to these specific thoughts/emotions.

 

Additional Support:

Parenting – Perfecting the Human Race

Extraordinary Parenting: Leila Zamora Moreno

Teacher’s Journey to Life with Anna Brix Thomsen

 

 

8. A Sound Environment for Children in the Classroom

sound-enviroment-for-a-child”When is it 2 o’clock?” (pick-up time)

”How many hours until circle time?”

”When is Lunch?”

I’ve been getting individual children asking me these questions shortly after the work session starts (a 3 hour work session where children are encouraged / directed to work with the Montessori materials and activities provided).

At first I was suspicious by their questions, but dropped it and made using the clock fun by showing the children how many hours we have until that time, sometimes making sounds of play as I moved my fingers around the clock, other times I would count the hour when I hit the 12 mark to make the process more interesting.  

Then more children started to individually ask me what time was circle time and what time was lunch time during our work session.

I asked a little boy once if the reason he is asking me is because he wants to go home. He said honestly yes, and I said ”well, what do you do want to do when you go home?” and he said he wanted to play soccer (football) with his dad.

It makes me concerned these children already 10-20 minutes into the morning work session are already wanting to go home. This is a huge problem… Is something going on the environment that is preventing them from enjoying themselves?

In my personal experience, I do find the way things are run in my classroom are not ideal which may contribute to children not being very happy. In this series I will walk through the problems I see and will add in my perspectives on how we can practically change them.

First of all the environment is not ideal – we are in an old building with long rooms, high ceilings and wooden floors on the second floor, so if chairs fall, glasses clink together, chairs scrape against the floor, or someone yells, the sound reverberates and echoes louder than usual. This causes many children and teachers to complain of the noise-volume, which affects stress levels, and disrupts work. When it becomes too loud sometimes teachers becomes angry/emotional and will speak and/or act in this emotion, that ripples in the classroom and affects the children. In some cases a child will cry because of the volume, so we would have to ring the triangle, remind everyone to talk in a quiet voice, but 30 minutes later it becomes loud again. These are ‘’Classroom Acoustic Problems’’ that actually harm a child’s health and learning.

There are a lot of little problems like this that contribute to making the work session environment not ideal/optimum for a child, and it’s really troubling to see children not happy and wanting to go home so early in the morning.

Practically, ideally, we require an environment/space that does not echo nor reverberate sounds for both teachers and children. Children are much more sensitive than us, so if we are going to have them work in an environment for long periods of time, we need to consider the environment and sound levels MUST fit their physical and psychological needs — they are of priority because the intention of school/classroom is FOR them to learn, grow and develop.

One way to fix the issue of tall ceilings that reverberate/echo sound is adding sound eliminator panels on the top of the wall, similar to what this classroom did here because these panels absorb sound very well, thus making the room much quieter and ‘’cosier.’’  If you’re on a budget, you can use cotton panels, which may not be the most attractive looking, but their purpose supersedes that (and children really don’t care what the room looks like). Other solutions can be adding carpets/rugs in the classroom, and more objects on the wall to block sound from bouncing off.

The most important point within this all is that the environment should be in consideration of both the child and teacher/adult’s health and wellbeing that leads/promotes optimum learning, growing and developing.

As my responsibility of a teacher’s assistant in the classroom, I will ask my team if adding panels in the classroom is a possibility, backing up my stance with research and personal examples for support, and will update you on any changes.

Thank you for reading!

6. One Year in the Classroom

one year in the classroomIt’s been one year for me working as a teacher’s assistant in a bilingual kindergarten. When I first started, I was really thrown into the deep end — I had no prior experience to working all day with children 3-6 years old (the majority of my experience was with older children like 9+), and the assistant I replaced was well-liked by the children, so they were not so open to accepting me.

I was quite “weak” as a teacher’s assistant. For the first three months I did not know how to properly direct children, or lead children, or handle conflicts. I was quite scared of some of them, particularly the boys who did not like what I told them to do where I “kept at them” by not giving up on them, they would hit and kick me, call me names, from which I would take personally and retreat in myself. I was quite traumatized by the amount of pain I experienced with the aggressive behavior of the children, because I had never before. This then fueled a cycle of fear where whenever I would be near them and they needed to stop doing something, the courage I had was very small, fear override it, so my starting point was insecurity and the boys picked up on it, and they knew how to respond to that insecurity… so you can understand it was a tough ordeal for me.

Now, after a year of dealing with such situations, I rarely get hit at/kicked at, and if I do, I am much quicker in protecting myself and not taking it personally because I know more of the child’s background/mind and why they did that.  In a way, coming out of  all of this, I feel like I can handle anything, honestly.

This means that over time in the classroom, I grew more confident in myself, in knowing what works, knowing how things are run in the classroom, knowing the children more, and what I need to say to them, the more certain I became in how to direct them and things. This entire process took like a year, to get to where I’m at now with children, where if there is something wrong/off in the classroom, like a conflict is about to brew, or a child is not working on a material properly, I am more confident in myself on how to direct and say things. And it’s been cool to see the results of my process working with children where when I ask them of something that considers the rules of the classroom, or the environment, or the children, they do it, they (for the most part) listen to me, and if they don’t, I am more confident in being able to work with them to have them understand, or at times I let them go — it depends on the situation (in time to come I can share more specifics on how I work with children in the classroom).

I had many many many times wanted to quit and give up my job. The combination of working with children’s emotions and behaviors along with the physical labor I had to do and my own personal reactions, it was too much for me. But I knew deep down to not give up, to not quit. Yes, money was the main motivation to keep going, but I also knew that I would regret quitting because I genuinely enjoy the children and the classroom I’m in.

Now, since I am more stable working with them, a new process has opened up for me where I am trying to understand how I can work with the inner needs of children– especially the difficult ones, where I am observing their behavior and seeing within their behavior what they need that would support them in groundedness, stability and to take steps to their utmost potential. It’s been a fun process so far and am looking forward to sharing more with you on that.

Thanks for reading!