Why I Prefer to Teach Kindergarten

teaching kindergarten

As a teacher with over 30 years experience, I have had the joy of working with students of all ages. But, over time, after having taught from kindergarten (first year in my country) to grade 5 (Standard 5) I noticed something that was very troubling. Many children reach their last year of primary school without being able to read. This dose of reality, for me, was heartbreaking because reading is such a fundamental skill. Many of them were bright and eager to learn, but because of the quick pace of exam preparation, they were unable to cope. As a passionate teacher I felt frustrated and sad because I wanted to help them, but by that stage, it was much harder to address their reading difficulties. Many sleepless nights eventually took a toll on me mentally, but thanks to my therapist, I was able to recover and focus on making a difference.

After much deliberation, I made a conscious decision: I will not be teaching an exam class again, as long as I can negotiate with my principal. I then asked my principal at the time to assign me to a first year class for the next school year. These issues needed early detection and targeted instruction to ensure that no student was left behind. My goal was to use my experience to assist children in developing a strong foundation in reading, thereby preventing potential difficulties at higher levels. My exploration to date has led me to the Science of Reading, a research-based approach to teaching reading. This method emphasizes understanding how children learn to read and employs that knowledge to guide teaching methods. Importantly, my focus remains on individual student success rather than exam outcomes.

Today, I teach reading in a way that focuses on each child's progress and enjoyment, without the pressure of high-stakes exams. I use fun and engaging activities to help students learn phonics, sight words, and reading comprehension. By creating a supportive environment, I can tailor my teaching to each student's needs, ensuring they build a strong foundation in reading. This approach allows me to see the joy on their faces as they develop their reading skills, which is the most rewarding part of my job. Most of my students make fantastic progress. They start to recognize letters, understand sounds, and blend them to read words. Their confidence grows, and they become little book lovers. 

In as much as I see many successes, the reality is that not every student progresses at the same rate. Some students still have a hard time, even with the best teaching methods. There are many reasons for this including absenteeism, socio-economic issues and also cognitive issues that may not be immediately apparent but would need further investigation. It is also important to understand that these difficulties are often beyond a teacher’s control. For, as much as I want every child to succeed, some challenges need more specialized help. But what I can do is create a supportive and encouraging environment and work closely with parents and other professionals to identify and address any issues early on.

Teaching kindergarten with a focus on nurturing children rather than preparing them for exams, has been the most rewarding aspect of my career. I love seeing my students’ progress and knowing that I am giving them a strong foundation brings me great joy. While some challenges remain, I believe that with patience, understanding, and the right approach, we can help most children become confident readers. And that makes all the difference in their educational journey.

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