High hopes in kindergarten
It's the second day of school, and Denise Searle's kindergarteners softly sing "Toe-knee-chest-nut-nose-eye-love-you," pointing to their respective body parts, timidly following the lead of their teacher. Circled up in the reading corner, the five-year-olds eagerly await the next activities: story time, followed by snack, a craft for their parents, and then recess.
"Kids learn so much through play; developmentally it's such an appropriate thing to be doing," says Ms. Searle, who is in her second year of teaching kindergarten at the Edgartown School after teaching third and fourth grades for many years in Vineyard Haven.
The students are comfortable with their teachers, Ms. Searle and fulltime teaching assistant Barbara Pertile, and their new friends. Waving their hands, they ask Ms. Searle questions during story time and begin to tell their own stories. While crafting paper cut-out hands for their parents, they talk and laugh with their neighbors.
"They learn about each other and friendship," says Ms. Searle. "My real philosophy is that they have self-esteem - a sense of themselves. I think they can't learn if they don't have self-esteem."
When asked what they want to learn this year, they are more reserved. Some did not answer, but most, with encouragement from their teachers, answered thoughtfully.
What do you want to learn in kindergarten?
Peter: I want to learn how to be good and stuff, and don't get hurt on the playground, and don't hurt my friend's feelings.
Michael: I want to learn about sports, like soccer and football.
Ellie: I want to learn how to read, to read soft books with lots of pictures.
Photo by Eleni Collins
Avery: I want Ms. Searle to teach me how to read.
Ruby: I want to learn how to read.
Kylie: I want to learn how to do things that I don't know how, like draw roses.
Joseph: I'd like to learn how to ride a bike.
Madeline: I'd like to learn how to read and do other things.
Braden: I want to learn so I can be like a 16-year-old.
Isabella: I want to learn more about art.