Since March we have been meeting on Zoom with our granddaughter every day, trying to cover kindergarten concepts. Working with a five-year-old on Zoom is definitely not the easiest way to teach. I have no idea how teachers are managing to work with several at the same time.
We immediately started to work with her on projects, but struggled with maintaining her interest and attention through several lessons, until it hit me like a lightening bolt to practice what I preach and teach authentically. This did not mean to let her run away with the lesson, it meant to incorporate her passions into what I wanted to accomplish academically.
Her current passions are Unicorns, Alicorns, and Mermalicorns – that is a Mermaid-Unicorn with wings, in case you didn’t know that. (In one of our first Zoom session, I mentioned that Unicorns were not real. I believe I will be forgiven for that comment in about a century or so.)
Once we started incorporating her love of unicorns into our lessons, they took off. We were able to share facts we felt were important, practice spelling, and counting, and just plain have fun working with her. She introduced new aspects to our authentic lessons that expanded what we were able to accomplish. She even informed us during a recent lesson, that mermaids are pretend, but we should still put one in our drawing we were making about what lived in the ocean. (I am not touching the unicorn reality subject again, I can be taught!)
At the end of a recent lesson, she announced that she wanted to talk about cameras (this was a reference to the camera that took a photo of her and her baby brother with Santa last December). We had a wonderful authentic conversation about cameras, practiced more spelling, did some math (photo size, age of cameras of the past), and drew pictures of cameras. (My picture was judged to be the best by her, out of pity for me, I have zero drawing skills.)
In hindsight, I am stunned that I did not start out immediately by working with her authentically, using her interests to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish with her. After all, I blog about this every week, and it is my passion. But throwing Zoom into the mix threw me. I will definitely admit it is not as easy as teaching in person. Being authentic is definitely harder when you are not authentically there. But going authentic has changed the impact and productivity of our lessons in a 100% positive way.
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy!