Kindergarten Day allows us to see our students in a different way – not so much as students but as real children. We read from picture books like “I Am A Bunny” or “Trains” or from counting books with pictures of things like four apples, and five flowers, etc.
We read from these books for fifteen minutes or so. If the book tells a story, we can tell it, or we can just talk about what is in each picture.
During this time, we become kindergarten teachers. The kids’ eyes are riveted on the pictures as we sit in a chair in front of them. We read the books with all the heart quality we can muster.
It is a humbling experience. Our kids just BECOME five year old, but some can’t, and stay stuck in their fourteen year old bodies. But all of them listen in total silence, and none pick their nose.
The sound, the feeling, of the words takes center stage in this activity. Because of the ambiance thus created, we often become precisely aware of when and what they are processing.
Everything becomes more transparent. Familiar words are clearly absorbed, and the students all report nines and tens on hand comprehension checks after the activity.
We skirt into the Pure Land a few times. The feeling of internal frustration that occurs in stories when we don’t have all of their full attention is gone, because L2 is occurring on more of a heart level than on a mind level for them. It isn’t just a story, it’s something different.
The kids have their cupcake plans and blankie plans all set up for next week’s kindergarten day activity, which usually happens on Fridays as a reward for good classes during the week.
Some bringi stuffed animals and their now blanks from home, and sometimes special books for me to read. But none are more excited than me. I feel, in those moments today, that I am really sharing the language I teach with my students at a deeper level of mutual trust than usual.
As Jody Noble has said, “Kindergarten Day is a beauteous thing.”
Susan Gross has said, “Kindergarten Day is PURE GOLD. The most successful language teachers in the whole world (mommy and daddy) do this every single day at bedtime. If they do it, then it is good. If they do it a lot then it is the best.”