Your first teacher was likely your kindergarten teacher. Do you remember their name or aspects of kindness? Can you think back and have fond memories of your kindergarten teacher? Or are you glad that time went quickly for you as a child.
Most of us often think of early childhood teachers as playful, happy, finger painting enthusiasts. It’s really important that we don’t discredit the time and effort they place on the learning outcomes that occur later in formal education.
Those first five years are crucial for setting up how a child’s brain grows. It sets the foundation for how we learn throughout the rest of our life. So the impact of a kindergarten teacher has a significant place in developing your child’s brain.
Kindergarten teachers set up your learning journey
Harris and Rosenthal (1985) stated that: “Students whose relationship with their teacher was poor at kindergarten, had lower achievement and more behavioural difficulties throughout elementary school and through to eighth grade.”
Did you have a bad experience before school or when school started? I remember absolutely loving my home daycare mum and preschool teacher but there was no transition into formal education. Even today I’ve realised I need transitions as an adult otherwise I don’t seem to cope well. My start to school was 3 years trapped with the same nasty teacher. I’ve made it my mission in teaching, not to let students fly under the radar and enjoy each student for their unique qualities and personality.
I have a friend (who shall remain anonymous) who had the most heart breaking experience at Kindy. When she was asked by the kindergarten teacher: “What would you like to be when you grow up?” She replied “A builder!” With all the joy in her heart. The kindy teacher exclaimed “how can she be a builder when she can’t even cut straight with scissors…” This is the only memory my friend has of her kindergarten teacher. Sadly for the minority it damages their self efficacy throughout their formal education. If you are one of these people who struggled in kindergarten can I encourage you to make it positive for your child. Leave out the negative experiences and focus on their positive journey.
For most of us, we loved preschool and reflect on it as a happy time. Our children love their kindy and kindergarten teachers and educators. It’s a great transition before formal education.
No teacher is perfect!
I feel like there’s this perfect teacher myth that we compete as teachers for, but it’s unrealistic. Kindergarten teachers feel the pressure from parents to transition their child smoothly but often there are a variety of factors that no one can control.
Kindergarten teachers have just as much work to plan and reinforce alongside parents. They are having to support new parents by communicating what their child has learned each day. It’s a massive undertaking just communicating different aspects of play and how play-based learning has been scaffolded.
They also have to support and guide parents when special needs are picked up in early intervention. Caring and patient kindergarten teachers help make these situations more positive.
Kindergarten teachers help shape the person you are now. Your memory might have faded but their imprint on your educational journey has made a huge impact.
It’s great to reflect back on our educational journey. There will always be years that were tough and made us resilient. The encouraging thing is that most kindergarten teachers are caring and patient. They wouldn’t have gone into that profession without having those qualities.
Enjoy these years with your child. Kindergarten years are the best years!
Written By Sarah Courtney