Helping a kindergartener reach success during quarantine

Reaching out to help younger student with school


Cat’s favorite games and activities

Lyndsay Walsh, Feature Editor

Summer is a time when kids often go into a “slump” and forget what they had learned throughout the year. After being out of school since mid March, and getting minimal learning experience, elementary students are losing prior knowledge from earlier in the year and are in need of some help. I have reached out to a good family friend, who is working hard to get her business back underway, to help her daughter with schoolwork during these uncharted times.

Many parents and siblings are in a tough position right now with taking over school and teaching for their younger ones at home. School was a way for parents to work without children as a distraction, but now kids are home with their parents still trying to get things done. Melissa Jacobson is the owner of On Pointe Dance and Movement and a mother of three children. Cataleya is six years old and started kindergarten this year. She just transitioned to EES and has improved and excelled so much from where she was previously. Unfortunately, after school closed and went online, school was a tough piece to juggle with Jacobson’s business. A few weeks into quarantine, I decided to step in and become a “teacher” for her. 

Being able to take an old routine of sitting at a desk, grabbing a book, writing with a pencil and making it into something new and exciting is a big deal when working on school with younger kids during these times. I have created a routine with Cat that has replaced her days at school. I have been going over to Jacobson’s studio and doing in-person learning for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on her attention and mood for the day. I always start with giving her a choice between math or reading. She usually always goes for math because that’s her favorite subject. I have learned through teaching her that she is a very active learner, and can’t sit and listen for too long. Math has been really fun because I make flash cards and number cards that turn into fun interactive games. Her favorite is SPLAT, where I call out an addition problem, like 2 plus 2, and she has to go find the sum and splat it on the floor with a fly swatter. I have also made an interactive number line, where numbers are scattered around the floor, and she has to organize them in order. Her teacher has provided a packet of material that we work on as well. Reading and writing is not her favorite subject, but I am working slowly with her to try and change her mind. We log on to RAZ Kids, a reading program used in school, and she picks a book that she wants to read for the day. She then listens to the story, reads it herself, and then answers five questions. We have also been working on sight words and spelling, and she is excelling at it. She likes to play alphabet bingo and I Have, Who Has. The school sessions can become long and tiring, and her brain gets worn out. That’s when I take her for a recess break and let her rejuvenate herself. She loves to go to the Eaton Town Square and run around. She makes up fun games that usually involve me chasing her. We play outside for 15 to 20 minutes, and then go back inside to get some more work done. Teaching Cat has been a fun and exciting experience for me and an even better experience for her.

Through helping Cat  the past weeks, I have learned a lot about teaching and kids. She has taught me that through these hard times, we can still have fun and make the best of our time. Trying to keep a kid’s attention span is no joke, but I have learned to make things interactive. I have also learned that each child learns differently. Cat is a very active kid, and can’t sit still in one place for too long. If I want to teach her something, it has to be interactive and engaging to her. She has also taught me to be quick on my feet. I try to teach her a concept, and sometimes it is just not clicking in her brain, so I have to switch gears real quick and explain it in a new way.  I am definitely no teacher by no means, but I feel like the biggest factor in teaching a child is to get to know them on a personal level and become sympathetic to their needs. After teaching Cat, my eyes have definitely opened up to how much teachers do.

Eaton School District closing has been hard for every student to adapt to, but it’s the way in which you approach the situation that makes the change better or worse. I decided to take the school closure in a positive direction and help out a younger student who needed help. Seeing Cat expand her knowledge and learn everyday has been a blessing. My days before helping her consisted of sitting at my desk, doing homework, and working around the house, but now, I fill half of my day with a little bundle of joy who is ready to learn and always brings positive and uplifting energy. I am able to smile a little more with Cat in my day. I encourage you to find a neighbor or family friend who needs help teaching their child, and reach out. Helping younger ones with their school work is benefiting their academic career infinitely, but is also great therapy for you.