The first day of kindergarten is one of those milestones that remains in every person’s memory. Often they do not remember what they learned in Calculus, 7th grade English or 4th grade Science, but most will tell you the name of their kindergarten teacher and the people from that class.
Those memories are often some of the most impactful in a student’s school life. This is a reality that Alston-Bailey Elementary School kindergarten teacher Kayla Williams understands very well.
“If you have a lifelong memory of something, it had a profound impact on you,” Williams said.
Williams said she originally did not want to teach kindergarten. She graduated from the University of South Carolina Beaufort with a degree in Early Childhood Education and a kindergarten position was the only one available. However, she considers herself lucky to have the opportunity to teach kindergarten.
She credits the joy of the students that they have when they come to school everyday.
“The world is through rose-colored glasses in a kindergarten student’s eyes,” Williams explained. “The innocence of them and just their pure joy of coming to school everyday.”
Williams said that kindergarten is unique because every experience is a learning experience for students.
Students do not just learn how to read and write. They learn how to interact with their peers, how to solve problems with one another and how to behave in a school environment.
“Everything they learn in kindergarten they will use for the rest of their lives,” Williams said.
Students enter into kindergarten often times never being in school before and they learn how to be a student.
“Everything you do it is their first time doing it,” Williams said. “Everything you want them to do you have to teach them how to do it.”
Williams said that it is important to create a positive classroom environment for the students.
She said she wants her students to feel safe and loved in the classroom because it may be the only place they feel that way. Also without that environment the students never want to open up and learn.
“If you don’t have the students’ respect, if they don’t feel safe and loved then there’s nowhere to go,” Williams said.
Williams also said that the experience of kindergarten will stay with children for the rest of their time in school and will affect how they approach each grade.
“If they have a difficult first year then they think the rest of the years are going to be like that,” Williams explained.
Williams said that kindergarten changes from day to day and the students are always learning whether its academics or social skills. The students laugh, read, dance and sing.
Williams explained that the impact is also clear because the joy is so evident on the student’s faces.