I have always believed that it takes a ‘special’ kind of heart to be a kindergarten teacher – sugar maybe? As an upper elementary educator, I often take for granted that children come to me already knowing how to hold a pencil or writing words with spaces between them.
This week, I had the rare opportunity to visit a kindergarten classroom at my school and I was fascinated with what I saw…I just had to share the wonders that take place inside a dual-language classroom – especially kinder.
First, and contrary to what several people I have met thought, many students at dual-language schools do not come from houses where the target language is spoken. In fact many kinder students come from English-Only households (or EO’s).
So imagine this: A child comes to a classroom where his/her language is NOT spoken (in a 90/10 program which is more 100/0 at the beginning of the year). This student is spoken in the target language all the time from numbers, letters, to directions. Therefore I wondered: How do they do it (teachers)? How do children survive? I can only think of myself being thrown in a foreign country. What would I do?
It is here that the wonders of a well-designed dual language classroom start to work. Children survive…they just do. They learn fairly rapid commands and key words. It starts slow, but in a few weeks they take off (even their writing).
When I visited the classroom, what caught my attention were the amazing charts: plenty of charts with rich vocabulary and eye-catching illustrations. In fact, these charts become a crucial part in a child’s journey through kinder. EO’s rely on them especially for writing. The kindergarten teacher mentioned how children not only look for them but also request them.
The charts below are a small sample of what I was able to capture (I wish I were more artistic!).
So my question to you SpanglishBaby moms, dads, and other family members is: How many visuals are there at your home that support your child’s language acquisition? Is there a visual schedule, an area where you cut/paste/draw illustrations? I would love to read and see what amazing things you do at home.
Photos thanks to MLC’s Kinder Classroom