Baby Steps

When starting a new year in Kindergarten I always forget just how little my KinderPals are. I forget that they don’t know how to put up their hand and wait to be called on. I forget that they don’t know to wait their turn to talk. I forget they don’t know where to put their shoes or hang their coat or put away the toys. I forget that they don’t yet know all the things that I taught my class last year. I forget that they really don’t know how to DO school.

But each year my new group of KinderPals show me growth and development. They show me what it means to learn. They show me that they can change and adapt to their new school environment. And with each passing year I hope they show me what I need to do to be the best teacher I can be.

Slowly, step by step, routines are mastered. Expectations are met and learning happens. One step at a time. One day at a time.

After all, many of my students are only four years old when they come to my KinderPals class. It is only fitting that everything they do is taken with baby steps. May I always be mindful of just how young they really are.

11 thoughts on “Baby Steps

  1. So glad I read this. Such a good reminder. My kinders are 5 and 6 but still so young. All have had “schooling” before they enter my class, but this is such a big transition. Being mindful, important but not always easy. ;(

    • Thanks for reading and replying, Faige. I think we all need reminders once in a while to help us focus on the most important part of our jobs…the kids. You’re right, it isn’t always easy.

      Michelle 🙂

  2. I experience – every year – the same things that you do. One reason why this happens, I think, is because these little 4 and 5 year olds are so capable that we forget just how little they are.

    • Sharon, thanks for commenting. Our little ones come so far in the year that we have with them (IMO some of the greatest visible learning examples out there) that it’s easy to forget that they come to us as sponges ready to soak up all that we teach them.

      Michelle 🙂

  3. So, conversely, I am only 53 and I’m still learning how to “do” school (the right way) so I need permission to take baby-steps to – as do we all. Best wishes as you treat each of your learners with the honour and respect that each new learner really needs and that us old learners dream of. Thanks for reminding us to let the learning happen and to believe in the learners – each one of them.

    • Excellent point, James! I wrote this from the lens of a Kindergarten teacher, but really it doesn’t matter who or what we are teaching. We must respect all of our students and acknowledge whatever learning accomplishments they make, however small or large.

      Thanks for commenting!
      Michelle 🙂

  4. Hi Dear,

    I remember having the same sense of awe with my students, Michelle. The Baby Steps were the momentous steps that gave me most joy as a Mom or as a Teacher. The big grin that burst out on a face of one who finally learned to tie a shoe, or the sense of satisfaction clearly registered on a child’s face when he/she finally learned the rhythm of skipping, or when the ah-ha moment when a child recognized the new-found skill of buttoning up a jacket successfully, or one had the realization that he/she could mark his/her ownership of a drawing with the identifiable and unique set of symbols of his/her own name- all are treasured memories I have of my own children, my grandsons, and my students.

    It always dismayed me when parents changed their loving and proud acknowledgements of newly-noticed growth and learning of their babies (first steps) to critical and judgemental comparisons with other children who learned to read just a little faster or a little more easily. To see them hurt the fragile “butterfly” of curiosity, and openness, and wonder of a young child with a callous comment …why can’€™t you…? that’€™s not good enough…! broke my heart.

    As teachers and parents we have such a responsibility to value every effort and to pave the way for climbing mountains just one step at a time whether they be “€œbaby steps€” or “€œgiant steps”€. Even Neil Armstrong took “€œone giant step for mankind”€ and what a step that was! Each day the steps we take make a mark on the lives of others and on our own journey and into the hearts of humanity.

    Love, Mom

    • Thank you for your comments, Mom! Everything I am as a teacher comes from watching how you so compassionately and gracefully cared for your students. Thank you for being such a good example for me.


  5. Oh Michelle,

    Those beginning days, weeks, and even months are so challenging in Kindergarten. I remember them well! Kindergarten is such an amazing year of growth and development – in so many ways. Baby steps are so important for the success of our students and our children. Acknowledging the growth that we see, and not focussing on all the growth that is *needed* is so very important to making school a positive place to be for our kids.

    Thanks for the post!

    I love that your mom commented as well – that’s the sweetest thing ever! She seems VERY sweet and very smart as well. The apple doesn’t fall ….

    Thanks for sharing, Michelle,

    • Tia, everything I learned about being a teacher came from watching my mom. She taught grade one for over 30 years and watching her care for her students made me want to follow in her footsteps.

      Thanks for commenting!
      Michelle 🙂

  6. Thank you for the reminder that the students are so young and have so much to learn. I’ve always known the importance of teaching routines at the beginning of the year, but with older students it is more about reminding them what they already know. This being my first year teaching kindergarten I am really learning how many little things need to be purposefully planned and taught. I also have to remember to have patience as it will take some students longer than others to learn it all.

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