Spotlight on Kindergarten

“Imagination, skills, anIMG_2025d building relationships. Those”, says Kindergarten teacher Jacki Gibson, “Are the things we focus on in the kindergarten classroom.”

Jacki, from Burlington, Ontario, has taught in Asia as well as in Canada. However, teaching at St-Laurent Academy has allowed her to still have an international flavour in the classroom even though she is so close to home. “I love having kids from all over the world in my room. It makes for great learning opportunities for the kids as well as for me!”

St-Laurent Academy’s kindergarten program, like the rest of the school, is based on the Ontario curriculum; thusly play-based learning is front and centre in Ms. Gibson’s room. “We have toys and blocks, as well as Lego, puzzles and a sandpit. These manipulatives helpIMG_2027 the students develop their fine motor skills and interacting with other students helps develop their interpersonal skills; both of which are integral as they prepare to enter grade 1. It is important to let kids be kids and learning skills through play is a huge part of that.”

Each day in the kindergarten classroom is carefully laid out. “My students need routine, as all kids do at that age. Knowing the expectations helps greatly. At the beginning of each day they know we will go to the same spot in our classroom and do calendar, followed by our weather report and letter of the week. This may seem insignificant, but when students know what to expect there is a sense of calmness in the room. They all know what their job is and how to do it.”

IMG_0432Technology is also an important aspect of her classroom’s day to day routine with smart boards, computers and access to the school’s Google Expedition room all a part of her program. “These students are growing up in a world very different to the one I grew up in. I think having access to the latest tech is not only important, but is also part of being a responsible educator and school.”

Another positive aspect of teaching at St-Laurent Academy which Jackie sees first hand, is that her students get daily Phys Ed. “I see the benefits that daily PE brings to my classroom. It is so important for them to explore, move, and play. And obviously they are picking up more skills in a new environment.” Jacki, who played Division 1 NCAA hockey in Pittsburgh on a scholarship, knows the importance of physical activity. “I love being active and even though my students are only four and five years old, it is never too early to instill that importance in children. They need to know that moving is good and they need to do it a lot.”