Junior Kindergarten Online – Journal – Day 12

As promised, today we are not going to try the synchronous Google Meet, as it seems to be more stress than success. C was happy with this decision, and happy to head to the Virtual Classroom (Bitmoji) where he had listened to one story and viewed a video on volcanoes yesterday. I was happy that I didn’t need to “time” his school start, so he began at 8:45, rather than waiting to sign in at 9:15.

Today he tried the second video in the Virtual Classroom, on coral reefs, but found the lecturing adult female didn’t hold his attention. His choice was to return to the volcano video, which then sent him down a path of choices which, fortunately, were SciShow Kids, and appropriate for him.  Getting back to the virtual classroom by selecting the correct tab in Chrome is much more difficult than clicking on the animated advertisement for the next video suggestion in YouTube. SciShow was founded in 2012 by one of my favourite vloggers, Hank Green. Heading down the rabbit hole of his, and his brother John’s work is definitely worth it!

But back to Kindergarten.  Among the curriculum expectations are a few that we really need to work on, including “26. develop an appreciation of the multiple perspectives encountered within groups, and of ways in which they themselves can contribute to groups and to group well-being”, and especially “2.4 demonstrate self-control (e.g., be aware of and label their own emotions; accept help to calm down; calm themselves down after being upset) and adapt behaviour to different contexts within the school environment (e.g., follow routines and rules in the classroom, gym, library, playground)”. The latter has been a real challenge for C to achieve within Google Meet, and so I’m hesitant to completely give up on the synchronous classroom, knowing that there is a great deal for him to learn about turn-taking and connection.

Yesterday’s blog post evoked this response via Twitter: “I say go for it. We would be asynchronous all day long if I didn’t need something to “occupy” M while I’m on for my 225+ mins…” This is a shared concern of all of my teaching colleagues, who are trying to support their children online while teaching themselves.  I have the luxury of time to “prompt” and “redirect”, which is not possible for a parent who is managing a class of 30 online. So, I think we need to look for strong asynchronous resources, ones which allow a student to work independently for longer periods of time, and which transition from one event to the next easily for little ones like ours. I am going to have to give this more thought….

I stepped aside this morning to listen to Stephen Hurley and Doug Peterson on VoicEd radio’s This Week in Edublogs discussing last week’s blog. It was affirming to hear their thoughts, and to hear their support for my last two recommendations, to have an agenda for the day, and to connect individually with students. Writing this blog supports my thinking and problem-solving, and I am hopeful that it might inspire the same in others. My husband and I discussed Stephen’s comment about this year being C’s first experience of “big-boy school”. We concluded that he likely won’t think of this as school; it will be the physical building and the social connection that he experience prior to lockdown that will be “school” for him. (It should be noted that while I was doing this C continued with his video-watching for more than an hour, ending up, inevitably, at one of his favour toy-demonstration videos!)

We then engaged in parallel play: C with his play dough, me with my bathroom tiles, and his grandpa with wiring. He stayed focused until lunch, which he shared with his grandpa while I set tiles. Then he joined me to begin the clean-up process, washing thin-set off tiles, and discussing the purpose of the “plus signs” between the tiles. He asked for the offcuts, and used his markers to begin to build a small house (see photo above).

It was a beautiful sunny day, so he headed outside with his grandpa, though only after a great deal of conversation about the “getting dressed” process. He has a very strict order for these type of processes, and would prefer if we followed the same order as he. We have been able to have a good conversation about respecting differences, and allowing others to do there own thing. I wonder how much of this “rule following” is his natural tendency, and how much is a result of his daycare and school experiences.

It’s now the end of the school day, and we have had no tears. C is happy and well-fed, and both grandparents have also completed some of their own projects.  We will cook dinner together, enjoy a movie while we eat, perhaps play in the hot tub, and will end up with four stories (he is four years old, so we have to read four books) before bed. His self-regulation will be challenged by the full-length movie, and by the requirement not to splash in the hot tub. And we will work on his memory skills while we review the day, and talk about his highlights.

I am thinking that perhaps we should work on his interpersonal skills with our own Google Meet sessions, with only one person at the other end, so that he can practise turn taking in conversation.  Sounds like a plan for this weekend!

3 thoughts on “Junior Kindergarten Online – Journal – Day 12

  1. Terry, I saw Doug’s tweet about your post this morning (for VoicEd Radio), and I went to your blog to read your latest post. I’ve been circling through some other ones of yours at the same time.

    This expectation about self-control is an interesting one to me. It’s the one that I struggle with the most as a K educator, especially since the rest of the expectations in the Self-Reg Frame align with Stuart Shanker’s thinking around Self-Reg. Have you read his books or explored The MEHRIT Centre website before? Shanker talks a lot about how Self-Reg makes self-control possible. Even with this expectation, I wonder if the same holds true. So for instance, with the movie, would something that he finds calming (e.g., having play dough in front of him) allow for him to sit and focus more on the movie? I wonder if the same would hold true for the Google Meet calls. I can’t speak for how his educators run them, but we have lots of children that bring paper to doodle on, a snack to enjoy, or even some LEGO to play with during the conversation and provocation piece. Then we create together online. I have to wonder if the paper, the LEGO, and even the snack are the Self-Reg options needed to make self-control possible. I’m not sure if any of these options would work in alignment with how his educators facilitate their synchronous times, but I had to share the thoughts.

    Your comment about the outside clothing was also interesting. In the past, we’ve spent lots of time talking about the order of clothing. Then for the past couple of years, we got kids to think about what should go on first (i.e., snow pants, as a coat is complicated to put on underneath them) and what should go on last (i.e., gloves/mittens, as how can you do up a coat with them on first?!). Now some kids could, so we said in that case, does the last item really matter? I think about all of my dressing songs/poems of the past, and how a little student problem solving reduces the need for any of them. Hmmm … there might be a blog post in here too.

    Thanks for sharing this kindergarten experience with all of us!

    1. Thank you Aviva! I would be interested in Stuart Shankar’s spin on the current synchronous models. I know our teachers in elementary have done a great deal of work in this area, and I also know that there was little training for them to transfer their skills to this new environment. C is able to concentrate for long periods when he chooses, and usually has a toy in hand to “fiddle” with as well. We have provided him with “the paper, the LEGO, and even the snack”, and they help, as does the bed nearby to bounce on. We made choices for his father as a child that were successful: not putting him in Suzuki violin until age 8, providing easy access to building and craft materials, and ensuring he had choices to build his commitment and perseverance. As educators I think we feel pressure to have our children “succeed”, and so will sometimes make unwise choices for them, in favour of “compliance”. I am fighting this urge, and appreciate your thoughtful response. We are all learning!

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