The first day of kindergarten is a day that no child will ever forget: the first day of independence, smiles, tears, meeting new teachers, making new friends, and learning all of the rules of school.
It can be daunting as the teachers have to learn all eighteen of the children’s faces, names, and who belongs in which class.
The first two days of school are staggered entry to allow all of the children ample time to get to school, get all of their paperwork situated, find their classes, and be fully prepared for school.
After those two days, the children will learn their teachers’ faces, learn the rules, and learn what to do at what time.
The first day of kindergarten was a mix of smiles, tears, confusion, and excitement. When parents dropped off their children, some parents cried and some children cried, but once the children were fully independent, the tears went away and smiles started to form.
Caroline King, a student in New Albany Elementary School’s (NAES) Kindergarten class, said, “I am excited about kindergarten. All of my friends will be there.”
Tammie Dodds’ class was followed for a few hours on the first day of school to see what it would be like to be a kindergartener once again. King is a member of Dodds’ class.
The day begins with the children going to Suzanne Hubbard’s classroom. In this classroom, the children will attend storytelling time one week and learn about music and musical instruments the following week and that schedule will alternate weekly.
Hubbard taught the students about the importance of being a better listener, how rules can keep them safe, and that it is important for them to pay attention to their surroundings.
When the children got in the hallway, they learned how to line up in a straight line, keep their lips closed, and hands to their side. They walked quietly in a line all the way back to the classroom.
The classroom is filled with plenty of colors, shapes, the alphabet, the days and months of the year, cubby holes for each student’s belongings, tables and chairs, and a carpet with different color squares for each student to sit in.
After the children got acquainted with the classroom, it was time for recess.
Hattie McKenzie, Dodds’ teacher assistant, lines up the children for their thirty-minute recess time at the playground. The children walked in a single-file line on the white painted line outside on the concrete on the way to the playground. Once at the entrance to the playground, the students surged onto the rock-filled ground of slides, swings, monkey bars, and other playground toys and equipment.
McKenzie said, “I love kindergarten because they still love to give hugs, everything is new, and they are eager to learn.”
After their thirty minutes is up, the students get ready to go to lunch for thirty minutes. McKenzie escorted the children to the classroom to get their hands sanitized and grab their lunch bags or lunch money, then they walked in a single-file line to the cafeteria and sat down with the rest of their class at the table. Lunch on the first day consisted of a slice of pizza, a sliced orange, blue Jell-O, salad, and white or chocolate milk.
This is the first year that NAES has used the combi ovens, which are combination convection and steam ovens. These new ovens should provide a healthier and more nutritious meal for the students and eliminate the need for frying foods.
After lunch, the children lined up in the hallway for a bathroom break and washed their hands.
After the bathroom break is over, they go back to their classroom. Once in the classroom, each child sat in their respective square on the color carpet where they will sit every day.
Then, Dodds gave them an assignment to color a schoolhouse and write their name on a piece of paper that read, ‘First Day of Kindergarten.’
Each child sat at a table and colored their schoolhouse, wrote their names on the sheet, and learned about the art of sharing when they had to share their crayons with each other.
Kelly Coltharp, grandmother of Caroline King, said, “I love school. Kindergarten is one of the best experiences in the educational field. They are excited and eager to learn. They are fresh and new to school and are excited.”
Coltharp is also New Albany School District’s Special Services Coordinator.
In kindergarten, the students will learn the alphabet, phonics, how to sound out letters and form words, they will learn colors, shapes, numbers, simple addition, and every month the students will have specific words that are called sight words that the teacher will focus on each month over and over again to help the students remember them.
On a normal day, the day starts off with the school-wide pledge of allegiance being said, the children learn about calendar math including the days of the week and names of the months, sentence structure, a phonics lesson, language, art, math centers, a snack, recess, lunch, and more than likely a nap. These tasks are in no particular order.
This is the thirteenth year that Dodds has been a kindergarten teacher.
Dodds said, “I like their innocence, that they are ready to learn, and that they are sponges ready to soak everything up.”
Bailey Robertson of Dodds’ class said, “I have never been to school before. I liked it because it was the first day of school.”
J. D. Campbell of Dodds’ class said, “I liked all of the smiles.”