When Goldie Feldman Academy’s kindergarten teacher Shonna Brady paid a visit to new student Ian Arov, 5, in his Siesta Key home, Ian shook her hand as if he were an adult.
Brady’s visit with Ian is just one of 12 home visits she conducted with incoming kindergartners before school started. The Temple Beth Sholom teachers conduct these home visits with incoming preschool and kindergarten students to ease the children into the new setting.
The teachers use this time to make their new students feel more comfortable entering the classroom for the first time and to assess what skills the student possesses.
Brady follows Ian to his kitchen table where she pulls out her numbers, colors, coins and books for him to see.
“I let the child lead me to see if the child is focused and gets the work done,” Brady says.
During this visit, Ian shows Brady he is ready to learn. Using numbers on pieces of paper, he organizes them in the correct order. Ian counts to 100 and mentions he likes numbers more than words.
Ian then chooses a book and looks through the pictures, stating what he sees. He picks up on cues quickly and is excited to choose another book to read.
Brady observes that Ian’s math skills are stronger than his reading. Because of these assessments, the teacher can gauge what each student needs to focus on in the classroom.
The school has adopted Bill Daggett’s Three R’s for American Schools — relationship, rigor and relevance. Brady says visiting her students prior to them beggining a new stage in their lives builds relationships; she digs into rigor when she assesses the child’s emotional and social skills; and by learning what they already know she can make their learning experience more relevant.
“I feel like the kids come in more confident and sure of what my expectations are and parents do, too,” Brady says.
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