Learning in progress

Published 11:13 pm Monday, August 31, 2009

SELMA — Kindergarten-to-first grade.

It doesn’t sound like much of a jump. In fact, it sounds like another rung of the educational ladder that leads through middle schools, junior high, high school and culminates with a diploma.

There are also a variety of similarities between the two classifications. The students are munchkin-sized at less than 4 feet tall; the learning environment has few restrictions as a lot of work is done around a table or at the feet of the teacher during story time.

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But for Meadowview teacher Judy McInnis’s first grade class, it’s a whole new ball game.

“It is a very big adjustment going from kindergarten to first grade,” said McInnis. “They’re supposed to work a little bit more independently, and the skills, of course, are a little bit more demanding. But my children are rising for the occasion. They’re doing great.”

Gone are the “good old days” when work consisted of playing, taking naps, socializing and getting to know each other. Those activities enjoyed less than a year before have been replaced by addition and subtraction, reading, language and phonics.

McInnis’s students say they have adjusted well and, despite some changes, have discovered things they like about their new activities.

“I like to do art. I’m very creative,” said Morgan Wallace. “My favorite thing to do is make crafts. I like to do coloring and gluing and cutting and crafts.”

Grace Wilkinson admitted she misses playing with toys the way she could in kindergarten, but likes her new work.

“We have to some reading, writing and all that,” she said. “We do a sentence or we’ll practice writing a letter.”

McInnis said writing is a skill where immense improvement is expected by year’s end. With the school year only a few weeks old, the students are phonetically spelling many of their words. The goal is to teach this group of first-graders to spell the words correctly and obtain a better understanding of English by year’s end.

“I don’t look at it as a challenge,” McInnis said. “I look at it as slowing down enough to look at individual abilities. Only when we look at a child’s individual ability can we best meet their needs.”