To many, facing a room full of rambunctious 3- and 4-year-olds would be an exercise in frustration. Kim Whiting, of Northeast Elementary, however, faces her preschool class every day with effortless enthusiasm and seemingly endless patience.
With 32 years of experience in preschool/early childhood special education and being a mother of two children herself, it’s easy to understand how she makes it look easy. Her classroom walls are adorned with colorful pictures and charts. Cubbies full of toys are spread throughout the room. The stimulating environment offers students a vast array of ways to learn and grow.
“One of the greatest things about teaching preschoolers is the excitement the children bring to school” she says. “How they are so excited to try new things and want to learn.”
While there is plenty of fun and games, Whiting keeps a structured schedule to her classes. Group time gives the kids an opportunity to come together as a unit and learn and explore through song, books or a number of other methods Whiting has up her sleeves. Snack time gives her the chance to teach healthy nutrition habits.
Teaching preschoolers is not always easy. Besides the exhausting effort of engaging a group of energetic children, one of the biggest challenges she faces is technology.
“The changes in how much children use different technology is difficult — how to balance out the good of technology, while keeping the children social with other children and adults,” the University of Iowa grad explains.
Challenges aside, being such a huge part of enriching the lives of her young students is extremely rewarding.
“One moment that made me proud I became a teacher was seeing a child graduate that I was told shouldn’t talk, and is telling me that they are going on to college,” she says. Oftentimes, it is also quite entertaining. Whiting recalls a recent exchange after returning from a fire drill. A student came to her and commented, “Kim, the fire drain wasn’t so bad!”
“What I like best about working in Ankeny Schools is being so fortunate to have the support (from parents and teachers), materials (to support learning) and the encouragement and time to keep learning new things in my field, she says.