It had been awhile since I had set foot in an elementary school. When I made the choice to take secondary education as opposed to primary or middle years I didn’t think I’d ever have to go to a primary school. It was a surprise to me when I was assigned to a pre-kindergarten classroom. Along with surprise I also felt confused, upset, and dare I say it – happy. I felt that because of my familiarity with this age group and even younger from my part time job in child minding and youth programming at the YMCA that this classroom would be a breeze. Boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When I say it’s been awhile since I’d been in an elementary school, my reaction to the setup of the classroom really shows it. This classroom was packed full with child sized furniture, a loft, a small food preparations area, and a teepee. My minimalist sense of style and comfort clashed with the overstuffed classroom. Although the children noticeably appreciated a classroom that had any educational trinket or toy that they could ever desire, I felt claustrophobic in the tight space and knocked more than a book or two over with my uncoordinated feet.
The children, aged three to five, trickled in after the lunch bell rang. At least, I think it was the lunch bell. It’s low tone and quiet volume seems small in comparison to the harsh alarm that rang in my ears long after the bell had quit ringing in my elementary school. We started with a couple students who came with their older siblings. Albert Community School is placed in a community that is not very affluent, and I found over the course of my afternoon that authority is often lacking in the young students’ lives and older siblings take on a parenting roll very young. This in turn affects the students as their home life does not fully support academic success.
The teacher of this classroom opened with pointing out the importance of routine and professionalism as it aids in the students building respect for authority figures. In consequence to this important rule I had no opportunity to build significant connections with the students. The school removed recess from their school days which was another barrier to having informal conversations with the young students in the pre-kindergarten class.
This experience is a harsh contrast from my own schooling. For starters, my school did not offer a pre-kindergarten option. Although I did attend a Pre-K it was private and for only a handful of hours in the week. When I did attend school my experience was much different. My school participated in a school wide recess. As well, I had the privilege of having a parent drop me off in the morning and pick me up after school. I lived in an environment where my life at home helped to nourish success in the classroom. Albert Community School is definitely a whole different experience than what I thought, but I am glad I have the opportunity to be placed here so that I can have a wide variety of practice in different situations.