By Lori Barnum
It is very common to see, “Student of The Week” or “Kid of the Day” or “Super Star” in the classroom. Sometimes teachers will choose students based on birthday’s, at random, or as a reward. However the student is chosen, when it is their turn – the child feels really special! Surprisingly, by adding additional responsibilities on to the student, it takes feeling special to a whole new level. Lynda Mlynar, Director of Small World Preschool uses the “Super Kid” student to reiterate the preschool’s values. Her approach creates an opportunity to find being special in being a leader who cares. She makes it a learning moment for the ‘star.’
The “Super Kid” shares their usual likes, dislikes, favorite foods and special toys with their friends. However, not only is the Super Kid responsible for the pledge and calendar, the Super Kid is also a leader who is responsible for others. If a child gets hurt it is the Super Kid’s responsibility to pick them up, get a band-aid and sit with them until they stop crying and feel better. If a child is playing alone the Super Kid is responsible to include them and if they see their peers not getting along it is up to the Super Kid to find a way to settle the dispute. The day is more than being just about them – it’s about being the best they can be.
Lynda said that the parents love it because their child walks away with a feeling of importance and pride. It also creates opportunities for understanding and higher-level emotional thinking.
Mrs. Mlynar says that the most import job she has is the safety of her children. Safety, for her, is not only about their physical well-being but also their emotional welfare. When there is no ‘Super Kid,’ she encourages her students to check on each other. If she sees a child is crying instead of her running to ask if they are okay, she asks the kids to check up on their friend. She tells them to look into their friend’s eyes and ask how they are doing, listen and find the best way to respond.
Like many great teachers, Lynda spends a lot of time role playing to demonstrate her expectations. As teachers, we all know, clear expectations pay off in dividends within the classroom and especially with our students.