Each year I am surprised by the kids I teach. I'm with 5-year-olds in my church class each year. But that doesn't mean that things are always the same. Each group of kids is different.
This week I was reminded of this again - in two different ways.
One of the favorite activities in our blocks center is using the toy cars. I put my collection of cars out and the kids (usually boys) pull out the cars, create roads, and begin to drive. (Sometimes we add tape, but that's a different post!)
This week I put out the cars and some paper roads. A couple of boys began to play. They built roads and structures for the cars. They drove a little but not much...not as much as I usually see.
Then another boy went over to the center. He began to build. He gathered cars together.
He told Mrs. Cindy, "Look at my car boat."
"Those boats are called ferries," Mrs. Cindy told him.
A little later I walked by. "Look at my car boat," my friend said. "I call it a car boat."
This group of kids did not build and drive as the other groups have done. They built car boats and other structures, incorporating the cars as needed. They did not follow my expectations (what usually happens). But they did create and experiment and learn.
In another part of the room, we had our annual activity for the first of December - decorating a tree for our home center. In the past this has been a popular activity. Kids like to staple and twist and create with the paper strips.
But the group this year were not as interested. They bent the chenille stems and used them on the tree but didn't touch the paper strips at first.
They were engaged in other parts of the room during most of the morning. Later Mrs. Cindy went over to the table and talked to girls bending chenille stems. She mentioned the paper strips. The girls made a few paper circles but that's it. Just a little experimenting before time to clean up.
This group did not become as engaged in this activity as other groups have done. They did not follow my expectations. They followed their interests (the chenille stems and other centers in the room). They were engaged as they chose. That's a win.
I think we adults get caught up in what should happen. Kindergartners in the past did this so the group now should do it. They should behave in this way or learn that way.
But THEY DON'T. Each child and each group is different. They are individuals. And we must be ready to teach as they are. We must adapt and follow as they lead.
That's how we make a difference in education today.