As we dive into October, for many of us the feelings and routines of school are familiar - waking up early, getting ready for school, seeing friends and colleagues, and digging into the various, vibrant challenges of the day. For our youngest learners, however, those practices are brand new as they are experiencing their very first St. Anne’s fall.
It is easy to take for granted all that we learned in those first years of school. We learned how to manage ourselves in a new environment with new people and evolving expectations. We learned that budding friendships require acts of kindness to keep them healthy and long-lasting. We also learned that there is a time and place for everything. Our preschoolers and Kindergarteners get to solidify that understanding every day as they shuttle back and forth from the Sisters’ Building to all our different spaces across campus. They may be our smallest learners, but they certainly get their steps in day in and day out!
In preschool and Kindergarten, the social-emotional growth that takes place is foundational. If you were to take a visit to our outdoor classroom or recess areas, you would see the richest breadth and depth of learning taking place. There are a myriad of options to consider. What do I want to play today? Whom do I play with? These questions require some self-knowing in terms of interests, reciprocity in terms of friendships, and negotiation of space and rules.
You might see students challenging themselves to hold on longer on the monkey bars. You could also see messy building in the sandbox. That blur you see? That might be a flurry of students playing a chase game. In each of these scenarios, there are questions asked and unspoken that students must wonder about, process, and answer for themselves. When they get stuck, however, our fearless teachers are there to help them problem-solve. Ms. Murray, can you help catch me? Mr. Bertles, he took my truck. Ms. Cody, I don’t know what to play. Students learn that advocating for themselves is an important tool to creating a happy and healthy life.
Our teachers are privy to the minute-by-minute growth that takes place each day. They see the first time they fall, whether that is a knee-scrape or a friendship heartbreak. They often wait to see if they can pick themselves up again (a challenge for anyone who knows that instinct to rush over and help). When intervention or mediation is needed, however, they do so with compassion and in ways that will give agency to students the second and third time. Every day is filled with firsts for these preschoolers and kindergarteners. Firsts that our memories forget as we grow older but that, as our daily practices prove, actually stay with us forever.