Three-year-old Charlie B. asked me, “When is outside time?”
I turned to 4-year-olds Ella and Josephine, “Charlie wants to know when it’s outside time?”
Ella thought for a moment into the air over my shoulder, then answered, “After Small Group.”
Josephine added, “First we have Circle Time, then we have Small Group, then we go outside.”
I said to Charlie B., “Ella and Josephine say outside time is after Small Group.”
Up to now Charlie B. has been an age-appropriately adult-focused kid, but he clearly took note of the girls’ expertise.
From the perspective of Teacher Tom the coach, the first week of school is all about developing the routines, habits and classroom fundamentals that will form the groundwork for a successful team of learners.
I’ve known most of the children in our 3-5’s class for a year or more. Eight of our current students started coming into class with their siblings before they were born! In other words, I’m quite familiar with my personnel, so my main focus is on team chemistry and getting the younger children integrated into the line-up. For the next few weeks I’ll be putting a lot of energy into encouraging our 4-year-olds, who are starting their second year in the 3-5 class, to demonstrate their mastery of the classroom and its procedures. This is how they’ll help me teach the 3-year-olds: by being authoritative role-models and inspiring leaders.
At Circle Time this week, 4-year-old Katherine told her 3-year-old brother Lachlan, “You have to raise your hand if you want to say something.” Lachlan stopped talking and raised his hand. Nothing I could have said would have had this much effect. Even better, all the other 3-year-olds heard her. I was thrilled when Luna, who struggled with hand-raising as a 3-year-old, gave the same instructions to her younger friend Alex who then dutifully followed suit.
I asked 3-year-olds Charlie L. and Isak if they’d found their cubbies yet. When they were uncertain, I enrolled 4-year-old Jack in the project of finding them. Jack took his responsibility a step farther by also helping them find their hooks.
During our free play period, a few of the 3-year-olds expressed their excitement about school by throwing our cardboard blocks. I pointed the behavior out to 4-year-old Annabelle who agreed to raise her hand at Circle Time and suggest the rule No throwing blocks, which she did.
When 3-year-old Dennis was ready for his snack, I asked 4-year-old Sarah to help him get his hands washed before eating. Sarah took his hand and lead him to the bathroom. Even though Dennis changed his mind about eating once returning to the classroom, at least he did it with clean hands.
Four-year-old Thomas lead several younger boys in an outdoor digging project, which I’m sure involved serious construction-worker action that will form the backbone of our masculine dramatic play for much of the rest of the year.
Four-year-old Finn’s enthusiastic assistance in cleaning up the block area was clearly an inspiration to one of our younger boys who matched him block for block.
At no time do I make an issue of the age differences between the children, of course, that wouldn’t be fair to any of them. They’re all equal classmates, but as a coach I’d be foolish not to take advantage of the expertise, confidence and skill of my veterans. As far as Coach Teacher Tom is concerned, they are the keys to setting the tone for the whole season . . . uh, school year.