My Kids Like to Party All the Time!

I’m a firm believer in celebrating successes.  We celebrate whenever goals are met by cheering, high five-ing, hugging and dancing.  But some occasions call for a little more.  Lately, those occasions have been coming fast and furious.  It all started with Top Bananas.  When all of my kiddos had mastered their letter naming fluently.  Then we moved on to Ball Words (otherwise known as Dolch Word Lists).  I promised these kiddos that any time the entire class is able to pass a level, I would celebrate

We have celebrated Baseball Words.  That’s the first 20.

Then we celebrated Soccer Ball Words.  That meant at least 40 for each student.

Then Basketball Words (if you’re counting that means 60 for each student).

And today, Football.  That means that of my original class members, every one of them know and have mastered at least 80 Dolch Words.  Woohoo.

Now I had some tough decisions to make regarding this last party.  In the last month, I have had two new students move into my class.  What would I do about Ball Words?  

Would I have to hold the rest of the class back to get these two students up to speed?  What is the fairest thing to do?  I get alot of questions specifically about this, and quite honestly, I always tell teachers they have to do what is fair for their students and what they think is right for their class.  That being said, fair does not always mean equal.  In my own case, I didn’t think it was fair that I penalize my entire class that had been with me from the beginning working on their ball words everyday for the last year just because we had welcomed two new students into our classroom. This was beyond their control.  Instead, I made some separate goals for those two new  students that needed to be met, so that when we celebrated Football Words, they would be celebrating their own goals met right along with us. 

It is a fantastic thing to see my kinders working with each other to meet their goals.  My students who have mastered all 220 Dolch words (over half my class of 26 now) take it upon themselves to sit right down with students who are working on other levels to help them along.  It’s an amazing scene. 

Do they love getting their certificates of achievement?  Yep.  Do they love the little trinket they get when they go to the treasure box?  You bet.  Do they love our Ball Parties?  Of course.  But I truly think that the greater satisfaction for them comes in know they ‘met their goal.’ 

Yes, we talk about setting goals even in kindergarten.  It started at the beginning of the year when we talked about building stamina and working towards the goal of reading for 20 minutes.  It has developed into personal goals of learning ‘ball’ words.  We’ve come a long way, and with my school going until June 11th, I have a feeling we may have a couple more parties still in us. 

Marsha Moffit McGuire

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