The successful Kindergarten teacher has a “magic sauce” that he or she uses when deciding what books to include in her classroom library. To help you understand what this sauce is and how this teacher uses this sauce, let’s compare two different scenarios. In both scenarios, you are in an English Literature classroom.
In the first instance, you are reading a book in the Sci-Fi genre – which you absolutely detest by the way. Learning about things that do not even exist hold absolutely no interest for you. You are neither happy nor open-minded about having to spend numerous classroom days reading this book.
In the second case, you are reading a book in the romance genre – which you absolutely cannot get enough of. You eagerly look forward to class every day because you want to learn more about this book and the characters in it.
In which scenario do you think you would learn more? Of course you know it is the second instance in which you absorb more information. The romance genre interested you, whereas the Sci-Fi genre did not. In the second scenario, you were already motivated to learn about the book. You were happy about getting to read a romance book and you were mentally psyched up for it.
Motivation is a critical part of learning. It’s how we get students to engage academically. The student who wants to learn about a particular subject is almost always going to take in and retain more information. Studies have even shown that students who are motivated to learn use higher cognitive processes while they are learning.
So maybe one day in school, you are reading a book to your kindergartners about different animals and what kind of homes they live in. The book is one the students can relate to because they live in homes and many of them have animals as pets. All of the children are attentive and completely “into” the book as you read it to them. When you have finished reading, you can tell by the discussion afterwards that everyone learned a lot.
However, on another day, you have a lesson plan where you want to teach your class about plants and you have this great book that will be just perfect for the job. However, there is a glitch. In this instance, you teach school in a neighborhood where the kids have never seen a garden, let alone helped plant one.
This is where your skills as an educator come in. You need to motivate your kindergartener students to want you to read that book so they can learn more about plants. They need to know how plants fit into their own world. There are numerous ways you could spark the class’s interest in plants. You could discuss the fact that much of our food comes from plants, why plants are important to the earth, and even have the class plant some vegetable or flower seeds.
As a kindergarten teacher, you have a big advantage. Most five and six-year olds still have a long way to go before they become decisive about what does and does not interest them. The brain of the younger child is still growing and he/she is much more open to learning new things than an older child or an adult. That’s a good thing for educators because it opens the door to an unlimited amount of learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom.
Back to that question – can your kindergarten library be filled with books that are both thoroughly enjoyable and educational at the same time? I am sure you figured out by now that the answer is indeed “yes.”
Plain and simple, you can teach your kindergarten class about anything. You just have to make sure that the subject interests them. And if you think the subject may not initially interest them, then it’s your job to make sure that it does.