Kindergartners at Franklin Elementary cope with their first week

Sunday, August 20, 2006

As fellow kindergartners watched, Zemiah Mackins quickly matched yellow and green cards that displayed her first name. "I know how to spell my name," she proudly pointed out.

Even with name tags around their necks, some of the 5-year-olds in Barb Egbert's kindergarten class had trouble picking out their first names when school started Monday at Franklin Elementary School. But by the end of the week most of the 21 students could pick out their names posted on the wall.

That was just one of the signs of learning that took place during the first week of school in Egbert's classroom.

The first week of school exposed kindergartners to numerous rules, from lining up for recess to sitting in their child-sized chairs. "I have to raise my hand," kindergartner Graeme Moore said.

"I learned not to break stuff," Graeme said. The don'ts, he said, include "not breaking windows, not breaking computers."

Students, Egbert said, are being taught more in kindergarten today. All-day kindergarten, which was implemented by the Cape Girardeau School District a decade ago, had made it easier to expand the curriculum, Egbert said.

"The children learn how to read. The children learn how to write," she said. "Now we do a lot with geometry. We even make graphs," she said.

Kindergartners even get lessons in social studies. Students have to learn what the White House looks like, as well as the nation's flag and the bald eagle.

Egbert said kindergartners have an amazing capacity to learn. "They are sponges," she said.

Unlike in some kindergarten classes, Egbert doesn't assign seats to the children. They sit at large tables. "I want them to make friends," she said. "Part of what they are learning is socialization."

Egbert has been teaching kindergarten for more than a decade. She still finds humor in the remarks of her students. The word "mom" drew the attention of one child. "That's how my mom spells it, too," Egbert quoted a student as saying.

The first week of school can be a long one for 5-year-olds. On Wednesday, many of the students were showing signs of being tired. Some of them ate little for lunch because they didn't like the school meal, Egbert said.

"They cried," she said.

But by Friday afternoon, they were eagerly lining up for recess.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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