“Good morning, students! I am so happy you are here. Today will be filled with lots of love and learning. Let’s begin our day with prayer. My challenge for you today is to love your neighbor as yourself. What are some ways you can love your neighbor as yourself? At the end of the day, we will revisit this question and we will share one way that we accomplished this goal.”
Five years ago, if you told me this would be how I started every day with my kindergarteners, I would have thought you were crazy. Ever since my decision to be a teacher, I assumed it would be in a public elementary school. After two years of teaching in a public school, I took a leap of faith and applied at a classical Christian school and was hired as a kindergarten teacher. This change brought more community and more learning than I could have ever imagined. Teaching in a classical Christian school has opened my eyes to the plan God has for me and I am able to openly glorify Him in the classroom everyday.
Jesus Is In Everything
Is Jesus really in all subjects and can I find a way to see Him in everything I do in and out of the classroom? Yes! He is everywhere, in all things, and in every part of my life. This is one of the biggest life lessons I have learned since teaching in a classical Christian school. It is one thing to go through my day teaching each subject, but it’s another thing to include Jesus in every subject. When I am mindful of seeing, feeling, and hearing Jesus in each lesson, the class and I connect on a deeper level. The students and I can have conversations that bring up questions, praises, and a heart of gratitude. It is a beautiful thing to have a class full of students, kindergarten at that, who want to know Jesus and see Him in everything.
Jesus In Every Subject
Bible – This is a given – Jesus is in the Bible! Teaching students the story of creation, the miracles of Jesus, the Christmas story, the Easter story, and so much more helps me learn the stories again, but at a deeper level. I also get to learn along with them. My first year teaching, some students taught me a song they learned in church. They teach me as much as I teach them.
Math – God is infinite and a God of order. He is consistent and always true, just as 1+1=2 is true. He created numbers for us to use in various ways such as measurement. Noah used measurement when he built the ark and two of each animal were on the ark.
Reading and Writing- As a Christ-follower, one of the most important ways I can worship the Lord is to read the Bible. This is my nourishment, my strength, a way for me to hear from Jesus and learn His ways. If I can’t read, how can I read the Bible? I also taught handwriting in kindergarten. The students and I wrote notes of encouragement to each other, to our families, to police officers, to veterans, and to school volunteers and helpers. I also use writing as a way to encourage others and enjoyed writing to students throughout the year. At the beginning of the year, I had to read the notes to them. At the end of the year, they could read the notes themselves, and wow what a joy it brought all of us to see that independence of reading and writing! It’s one of those moments when growth is felt, not just seen and heard.
Science – This is probably one of the easiest subjects for me to connect to Jesus. Science experiments even at the kindergarten level bring so much creation to light for us to observe. Those seeds that become flowers? Jesus created it. Mixing liquids together to create a reaction? Jesus created it. Making and trying out a catapult? Jesus created it, too! (And how fun is it to shoot marshmallows across the room with a handmade catapult?!) In the grammar stage (elementary), students learn about the basic science concepts and dig deeper into these concepts in the logic and rhetoric stages (middle school and high school).
History – Our History and Bible curriculum timelines matched really well, so our History discussions were also our Bible discussions. The students and I learned about Moses at the same time in the curriculums, which helped the students make connections to the subjects and Jesus. History narrations become easier when students already have some background knowledge of the stories.
Songs and Chants
Penny, penny, easily spent. Copper brown and worth one cent…
On the first day, God created day and night…
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut (clap, clap)…
Plant a seed and watch it grow…
Across the sky and down from Heaven, that’s how you make the number seven!
As I write those five lines, I am singing or chanting in my head. Singing and chanting is a big part of classical Christian education. Not only am I personally learning again, but students this age, in the grammar stage, learn best when they can sing and chant. It’s amazing what the students and I learn and memorize together. We learn a new song or chant almost every week. This is one of the many ways that we glorify God in the classroom.
Discipline sounds mean, right? Believe it or not, it is actually a good thing. A really good thing. I think of it as training, which can be tough at the time, but full of rewards in the end. In Hebrews 12:11, it says “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” It takes time, patience, and love to train, but the result is living our lives to the best of our abilities. When a conflict arises in the classroom, it is handled with both truth and grace. The students and I talk through what happened, why it happened, what the Bible says about our actions, what we can do better next time, and that our mistakes are forgiven.
Ending Each Subject and Ending the Day
Review, review, review! Do you remember everything you hear the first time and remember it forever? I definitely don’t and most of the time my students don’t. After each lesson, we review what was taught and learned. Then, at the end of every day, we go through each subject and review again what was learned. We also talk about where we saw Jesus and who we saw display the character of Jesus. By reviewing our day before students go home, it brings lessons learned to their mind again, which results in students jumping into the car to share with their families what they learned in school. This encourages car conversations that are deeper than “my day was good.” Many parents have told me how much they have learned from their kindergartener, and I share that joy with them – these children are soaking up so much knowledge that they spread to everyone around them.
Written by: Stephanie Fiechtner – Kindergarten/1st Grade Teacher