Impact Highlight

Upon arrival to class, one of my PreK-3 minis comes over and gives me a big "good morning" hug, then joins her friend in helping me pass out breakfast items at their tables. She playfully laughs and talks with her friends while eating her food, then calls me over to tell me that mommy made her lunch today in her new lunch box. She smiles excitedly and waits for my silly reply (about how I thought it was my yummy lunch that mommy made and how I was going to enjoy eating every bite) so that she can counter with her own funny reply.  This is just one of our morning routines that make my heart smile as I think about how much Neriah has grown since beginning of school. Neriah's first weeks of school began with her kicking, screaming, and throwing herself to the floor after mom's exit. (And me reassuring mom that it will get better and that she calms down in under ten minutes)  

Neriah would sit at the very back of the rug every day at Circle time and wouldn't participate orally unless I prompted her several times to include her. She would reply very softly, with her chin to her chest, with one-word answers in scrambled and sometimes unintelligible baby lingo. As the weeks grew into months, Neriah’s speech was still very hard to understand, and she still needed coercing to get her to engage in play with her friends during outdoor recess. Even during indoor recess, she wouldn’t dance and sing with the class at first, and was very shy and timid in her interaction with the other girls at her table. The beginning of the year assessment was frustrating for her even though I tried to make a fun experience for her. She had not retained the letters of the week alphabet, nor shapes and numbers.

We began with several weeks of small group instruction with myself as well as my assistant, working on alphabet recognition, and picture vocabulary cards. Also necessary were all the purposely directed “special moments”, of playing along with Neriah in the Pretend center, random dancing, random “Neriah who-what-when-where-how-why-and did you know questions during other center or whole group time. I would often call on Neriah during whole group, to come and sit closer to me and help me find letters and shapes that I “lost” in hopes that she would become more confident.

 Throughout this time, Neriah was laughing, playing more, talking louder and speaking more clearly.  One day, Neriah spoke up loudly from the back of circle rug to tell me the letter of the week as well as the last week’s letter. I invited the rest of the class to help me praise her for her awesomeness. The next day during morning circle, Neriah sat at the front of the rug all by herself (a first!) and shouted out all the letters that she remembered as I held up the letter cards. The week following, Neriah was reciting all the letters of the week that we've learned and pointing out that her name begins with 'N'. I immediately let her know that I was very proud her remembering her new letters, and I wrote her name the title "letter champion" on a paper leaf and stapled it in our friendship tree for her to see every day.

I report all of Neriah's school milestones to her parents, and they often share with me stories of her growth they see at home. I truly appreciate their being so supportive in this process that has resulted in Neriah’s social and emotional growth as well as academic growth. I smile inside and out whenever I hear Neriah confidently shouting out letters, singing songs, grabbing her friend’s hands initiating play, and dancing like no one is looking during indoor recess.  I look forward to hearing the new things that Neriah likes to share with me about her world during breakfast, or anytime.


Shenitwa Walker, Pre-K Teacher

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