Skip To Main Content
Guest Blog Post – Kindergartener Today, Leader Tomorrow

Throughout this school year, we will feature guest bloggers to share different perspectives on or experiences with boys education on our Head of School blog. Our next guest blogger is Tiffany Sutton, Regis Kindergarten Teacher. This is part 2 of a multi-part series focusing on math education at Regis.

Kindergarten is one of the most challenging yet rewarding grade levels. In my opinion, it's also the most fun, but I may be biased. This year is the culmination of students' foundational knowledge learned from home, in Pre-K 3 and in Pre-K 4. If you think of Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4 as bricks, Kindergarten would be the mortar in building a strong mathematical foundation. Part of what builds this strong foundation is what practices you use and how you engage the students.

At Regis, some of our most valuable practices include a planned sequence of instruction that gives students the time to dig into the math concepts. Content isn't rushed, and the boys have time to make the learning stick. Each math unit also contains a Problem Solving component. This is one of my favorite activities because it requires the boys to apply what they have learned in order to solve the problem. It gives me the chance to walk them through the problem solving process and ask, "does the answer make sense?", which can be tricky business at times! Another valuable practice is the concept of multiple representations. It's not enough anymore for students to learn only one way to solve a problem—they must know varied methods. There is, after all, more than one way to skin a cat! In Kindergarten, students will learn how to represent numbers though counters, tallies, ten frames, base tens, place value discs, and rekenreks (similar to an abacus, it is a calculating frame/arithmetic rack), to name a few.

How does one keep a 5 or 6 year-old engaged in math? By allowing them choice when possible. Students learn how to use different math tools to solve for answers. When we learn addition, for example, students can utilize one of several methods to find the sum. They can use a ten frame, a number line, draw a picture, count on, use tally marks, write a number sentence, and use their fingers—though the latter is my least favorite! Once a concept has been taught 'whole group' and through guided practice, they begin to rotate to stations in groups of 2 or 3. This is a time for students to test the waters of "Am I able to do this by myself now?". Another way I have kept my learners engaged is by making them justify their answers. There is something I always say that gets them fired up when they come up with a solution, "Prove it." Having students explain their mathematical thinking is paramount! It's a two-bird, one stone deal. They enjoy the challenge of PROVING to me, or to their peers, that their answer is correct, and I get to see how they've come to their solution and their thought process along the way.

Kindergarten math is no longer what it used to be. Yes, we still count and practice writing numbers and building them, but it's also so much more than that. All of it is done to ensure that our students create an understanding of mathematical concepts that will be confident and unwavering in the years to come.

I leave you with a teacher letter that I always keep in the back of my mind when I reflect on why I teach our boys with purpose and heart. It is a healthy reminder of the importance of teaching my students to be the best they can be.

"Today, like millions of other people, I went to work. I didn't design a beautiful skyscraper, I didn't write a proposal to save an endangered species, and I didn't drive a bus or fly a plane, or write a crucial bill that would someday become a law.

However, I did spend time with some very important people. I read a story to an attorney, I sang the alphabet song with a Supreme Court Judge, I ate lunch with a pastor, and I patted the back of an engineer until he fell asleep. Taught a policeman how to tie his shoes, and introduced an astronaut to the color red. Tomorrow, who knows whom I'll meet, but one thing is for sure...They will be very important, for they are our precious children, and the hope of our very future." -Author unknown

Bio: This is Tiffany's first year at The Regis School of the Sacred Heart. Prior to joining Regis as a Kindergarten teacher, Tiffany served in the Sacred Heart Network at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, where she worked as a long-term substitute in Pre-K 3 and a P.E. coach. Tiffany is currently the Assistant Coach for Duchesne's varsity field hockey team and for middle school soccer. Prior to moving to Houston, Tiffany served as the Kindergarten Team Lead at J.A. Hargrave Elementary in Crowley ISD. Tiffany has 7 years of teaching experience. She holds a Bachelor's of Science in Elementary Education from Baylor University and a Master's in Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Tarleton State University.