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Building a Kindergarten community at the beginning of the year is extremely important. So how do we do this? For the first 6 weeks of school, as a class we consistently review and practice, expectations, procedures, and routines. My Kindergarteners know exactly what I expect of them. We learn the Bixby Core Values (respect, responsibility, and empathy) and recognize students who demonstrate these values, during our all school assemblies on Fridays. We encourage students to take responsibility for their choices, actions, and their school. Kindergarteners have many jobs throughout the day, including the calendar, setting up chairs, and lunch cleanup. We practice communication skills, articulating feelings, and expressing emotions in kind and appropriate ways. What does a Kindergartener do with all those big feelings? I give my students strategies to calm themselves and tools to support them in self-regulation. We also spend time developing a growth mindset. I teach these things through books, role-playing, modeling, songs and games. Visuals and sign language are also an important part of teaching these skills. We do a lot of collaboration and team building exercises inside the classroom, to give students a chance to work with all of their peers and to develop confidence in oneself and appreciate the work of others.
Once we establish a positive learning environment where children feel safe, they will begin to develop relationships, share ideas, take risks, and solve problems. This is when successful learning takes place.
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