Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Counting Club

When I began teaching kindergarten, one of the goals of the curriculum was to have each child count to 100. I started a 100's club. When a child could count to 100 they received a paper badge showing they had met their goal.
It became a pretty big deal in kindergarten. I had one student, a gentle, blonde girl who was developmentally delayed. Her mother had worked with her to give her every advantage possible. Though this student tried very hard and practiced every night, she could only count to 8.
One day the mother said, more like thinking out loud, "I wish you had an 8's club.". This got me thinking. I had learned in college that the image a student forms of himself in the first year of school, stays with him throughout his lifetime. I decided that my over-riding goal in kindergarten would be to help each child become a successful learner in some way. From then on, we had a counting club instead of a 100's club. Everyone was in the club. They received a badge according to which increment of 10 they could count to.
Our goal was still to count to 100. Some learned early and some learned late in the year but everybody was in the club. When they reached 100 I had them raise their hands like a victorious Olympic athlete and the whole class stopped what they were doing and clapped.

What I learned: It is important to have everybody in the club. Small goals make everyone successful in some way and breeds success for larger, more important goals.

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