Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Joy of Teaching Early Childhood Learners

Today is one of those days that I am so glad that I teach PreK and Montessori. I'm sure you have all had the kind of classes where you are just so frustrated at the end and it was such a whirlwind that you aren't sure what exactly went wrong. Well- that was this morning for me! Luckily, Ms. Tagle's VPI (Virginia Preschool Initiative) walked in less than 5 minutes later, and helped me to shake it off and recover for the rest of my busy day.

I have 30 minutes with PreK and 35 minutes with Montessori each day. I teach 5 PreK classes (3 with integrated PreK special ed classes) and 3 Montessori classes each week. I treat my preschool and Montessori classes much like my Saturday Music Together classes (read the post about Music Together here). Each class has a Hello song, a small movement song, a large movement song, a focus song, an instrument song, a free dance, a lullaby, and a Goodbye song.

PreK students during Free Dance time 
(with their assistant in the middle- can you guess his Halloween costume?)

Now, of course, teaching early childhood learners does not come without its own challenges. However, over the past two years I have really gotten the classes down to a science. Students begin class by sitting on a carpet square (arranged in a circle on the floor)- my carpet square is always letter A, so they know not to sit there. We sing Hello to each of the students in the circle, then always do some wiggling of one body part or another. Their FAVORITE part (possibly of the whole class) is at the end of the Hello song when I end it by drumming on the floor with my hands, then stop, then do it twice more. It's really a mechanism to teach self control, but they go crazy for it! Teachers have even told me that the students do it when they go back to their classrooms!

Montessori students make a train during their Free Dance time

Students learn to pat steady beat, use their singing voice, exercise body control, and play instruments appropriately. One example of this is that when they get their instrument for the day they "put their instrument in their lap, hands on their knees, and 'you get what you get and you don't get upset." I have them say this to me each class. Whenever they hand a prop back to me I try to get them to use their solo singing voice by singing "Bye bye eggs" (Sol, Sol, Do) or whatever they had. I reinforce this melody by also singing "All Stand Up" (Do, Do, Sol) and "All Sit Down" (Sol, Sol, Do) periodically throughout the class period.

Students use scarves to make fireworks for vocal exploration

I love that I don't have to stress out about PreK and that the students learn valuable lessons for the next years of their musical education. We have SO much fun and I hope that I continue to be able to teach as many PreK classes in future years at Hoffman Boston.

This, as usual, was a post for my participation in #NaBloPoMo.

~Ms. Patrician

1 comment:

  1. Hooray for PreK! I see my PreKs first thing at the beginning of the school day and it helps set a positive tone for the rest of my day :)