by Jancy Mundenmaney, Lead Kindergarten Teacher
The fundamental core of my teaching philosophy is that each child is unique and precious. I am passionate about the personal success of each student, and believe that every child is capable of reaching their highest potential when given the right tools and support.
At BASIS Independent Fremont, we believe in educating the whole student. We weave important life-skills of empathy, kindness and respect into all of our classes. These life-skills spring from our code of conduct based on five key principles of behavior. In every Kindergarten class we have two teachers: Kindergarten Expert Teachers (KETs) and a Teaching Fellow (TFs). KETs are responsible for delivering most content to students and bringing pedagogical expertise to the classroom, with the consistent support of a Teaching Fellow, who works with the KET to ensure that the diverse needs of each student are being met through differentiated learning.
Day-in-the-Life of a Kindergarten Student:
We usually start with a morning exercise that requires the students to get up and move around. We might do “listen and move,” or even something like “head, shoulders, knees, and toes” to get them warmed up and ready for their day. Exercise in the morning helps students to focus and be alert.
We then move to our morning math meeting. As with all BASIS.ed schools, we use Saxon math and, in kindergarten, we often introduce math concepts through music and songs. Music is fun and is highly effective in helping students remember lessons. We then have time to review what we learned in previous lessons and then move on to new concepts. We frequently use manipulatives, such as geo-boards, linking cubes or geometric shapes, to support hands-on learning in the classroom. Once we finish our lesson, students work on the corresponding math worksheet with the aid of the teachers.
Next we have snack-time and recess, which plays an important role in helping students refresh their mind. It’s also a time for them to learn how to share, how to play together, and how to communicate appropriately with each other.
After recess, we have Language Arts. Currently, we’re reviewing the long and short vowel sounds, consonant blends and digraphs. After our group lesson, students usually return to their seats to read a story. Most recently, students read two different versions of the Gingerbread Man. After reading the stories, the students used Venn diagrams to compare and contrast elements of the two different versions. Once we finished that part of the activity, students formed into small groups, chose a leader and then chose one version of the story. The students worked to explain and illustrate the characters, setting, and conclusion. Students then brainstormed how they would make the ending different and explained why. This helps build critical thinking skills and helps
students understand the mechanics of storytelling.
Next is lunchtime. Some parents opt for our healthy hot lunch, while others prepare a lunch box. Students are given ample time to eat, and then after eating, can go outside to play and refresh.
After lunch we move on to the electives. We have Engineering two times a week, Art, Drama, and Music each one time a week, and Mandarin three times a week. These classes are led by different Subject Expert Teachers (SETs), who come to our classroom to instruct the students. Our engineering teacher, Mr. Huneycutt, joins eager students in their classroom to bring this subject to life. We explore a wide spectrum of projects, from computer programming to bird houses. The students are challenged to see mistakes and failures as an opportunity to learn. In this class, projects break all the time—bridges crumble, houses fall flat, and sail boats sink. Students can react with disappointment or frustration. These are the moments where Mr. Huneycutt reminds students that we all make mistakes, and follows up by asking them what an engineer would do. He teaches them that a successful engineer reacts to failure by not giving up and instead trying something different.
Our drama teacher, Ms. Burley, helps students explore the magic of theatre while building confidence and public speaking skills. It is exciting that students at this young age have the opportunity to learn how to speak confidently in front of others. Additionally, student’s literacy skills are enhanced as they dramatize and retell stories. It is important for students to actively engage in their learning through drama to meet the needs of various learning styles. Lastly, the Kindergarten performing arts classes provide students with a platform to collaborate and work together as a team. It is amazing to witness students sharing and caring for one another as they cooperate to bring stories to life through drama.
After their electives, they have Physical Education every day. Students also enjoy one day of Yoga during their P.E. period every week. Studies have shown that Yoga helps students develop physical and mental agility, as well as learning breathing techniques, self-control, and focus. P.E. focuses on physical competence, health-related fitness, self-responsibility and enjoyment of physical activity for all students so that they can be physically active for a lifetime.
After PE, students return to their classroom for civics and science lessons. In civics, our students learn history and all about their community. During the presidential election this year, for example, our students learned about voting and actually took part in voting between Duck and Farmer Brown! Our science classes are very hands on, which the students love. After teaching a new science concept, we either do demonstrations or experiments that allow the students to see a concept in action. One of our most recent demonstrations was about states of matter. After learning the differences between solids, liquids, and gases, we did a demonstration of how mixing different substances together could create a new state of matter (mixing vinegar and baking soda, for example).
We end the day with Kinder Enrichment. This is time dedicated to customizing learning to meet the individual differentiation needs of each student. This attention to each individual student is one of the many things that help students succeed in their academic careers.