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Kindergarten: The foundation on which learning builds

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Tina Broaddus’s kindergarten students “jumped” at the chance to “shake your silly out” that helped get rid of those first-day jitters at Middlesex Elementary School. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)

by Tom Chillemi

“I missed you,” said Jordan Fuller to art teacher “Miss Dixie” Doerr as he entered her art class at Middlesex Elementary School on Tuesday. He had a lot to tell her as they held hands.

Jordan gave her a long hug, and then got ready for his class’s first art lesson of the new school year that began on September 4.

Miss Dixie also had a lot to tell about her summer—she and her 16-year-old son had hiked and camped in Denali National Park in Alaska for a week. Her room was decorated with photos she’d taken of grizzly bears catching salmon in a mountain stream and the snow-capped mountain Denali, which means “the High one.”

But Miss Dixie said she was glad to be back. “Those hugs make it exciting,” said the veteran teacher. 

Across the hall in the kindergarten wing, Megan Hudnall’s class was learning three things they would need to bring to school every day—“listening ears, gentle hands and a kind heart.”

Why should one have a kind heart? “Because it holds your love,” answered Mathew Wolfe. He also said that when you put your hand to your heart you should do it gently “because it beats for you.”

Mathew seemed to understand a sign near the door of Hudnall’s classroom. It read: “Before you speak, think and be smart. It’s hard to fix a wrinkled heart.”

Next door in Tina Broaddus’s classroom, kindergarten students “jumped” at the chance to “shake your silly out.” They were led by a video for a short stress-relieving dance that helped them get rid of jitters. Broaddus said her class this year was one of the best in her 20 years of teaching.

Robin Lambert’s kindergarten students sat in a circle and introduced themselves to each other.

Some learned what to do with a pencil that is not sharp—put it in the “dull” pencil can.

She went over the classroom rules and quizzed them on the playground rules they had learned a little while earlier. They were also learning to “wait their turn to speak” and “listen to the teacher the first time.” They are two lessons that will serve them well.

These first-day lessons reinforce the book, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

posted 09.06.2018

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