Written by Mathieu Labossiere
Full-Day Kindergarten Teacher, Princeton School
(To protect privacy, identifying information such as the student’s name and country of origin have been changed.)
As the Kindergarten teacher at Princeton School, I come into each new school year excited and eager to meet the students, introduce them to the classroom and school, and watch them as they engage and socialize with each other for the first time. On the first day of class in September 2019, I was eager to know more about each child and discern who might require some extra attention.
he last person to enter the room that day was Jonas, who cautiously entered the classroom holding his mother’s hand. Immediately, I recognized he was a very shy young boy. His parents advised me that although he was very bright, he had only moved to Canada from Lithuania 11 months before. He had a tremendous amount of difficulty expressing himself in both Lithuanian and English. His parents were unable to understand what he was trying to say the majority of the time, and feared that his communication difficulties would hold him back, especially as a new language was introduced. In fact, the reason they sought out a school that offered full-day Kindergarten was to provide Jonas with as much opportunity as possible to grow his language skills.
Over the course of those first three months, his parents, our inclusive learning specialists, and I, worked on identifying strategies to help improve his language and communications skills.
By January, Jonas’ proficiency and articulation skills improved and he was confidently interacting with his peers and inviting them to play with him at recess and during centre time. As a result, Jonas’ increased comfort at school was evident and his personality and love of learning began to truly shine through. His infectious laugh and effort became a staple each morning and his positive outlook, especially with table time activities, rubbed off on those around him.
I am also extremely proud of my amazing students who were so helpful, patient and accepting of Jonas from the very beginning and supported him while he found his voice!