What I Learned from My Kinder Friends

Reflection written by Breanna DeLeon, 2022-2023 English Literacy First Tutor 

Throughout my service year, I tutored eight kindergarten friends. My experience teaching my youngest students taught me a lot, from learning how to manage behavior to how quickly children develop. I want to share what I learned from each of these students that I supported throughout the year. 

Breanna with the students she tutored throughout the year.

From Joseph, I learned the value of patience. He has grown so much as a reader since I started reading with him and seeing him learn to enjoy reading has been the best result of us reading together.  

Nalani was one of my first students, and from her, I learned the importance of encouragement. She was always excited to put sounds together, and I learned how to channel that excitement to grow her phonological awareness.  

Kayla loves to read. She taught me how to be adaptable, putting me to the test to effectively manage her high energy at 8:00 in the morning.  

Luis is a special friend. We had our ups and downs. Luis taught me the value of providing self-affirming support for students. He showed me that what we do goes beyond reading tutoring.

From Bethany, I learned what dedication and accountability look like. I never realized that at 5 years old, a student could be so quietly competitive with herself to read quicker.  

Harrison taught me that consistency is key. He always looked forward to our daily 20-minute sessions and received so much joy from doing word search puzzles when we had time at the end of our lessons.  

From Ivan, I learned flexibility and grace. He proved to me that students do not have to sit in chairs to have a good lesson and there is room to adapt to each student’s needs. Ivan is a motivated reader. He loves to read, and he also has a lot of energy. What works best for him is to stand for a part of or all of the lesson so he can tap his feet and wiggle a little while reading.  

And finally, Zora amazed me by showing me how much a six-year-old student can grow in a short time. She was one of my first students to start reading decodable words on her own. Zora taught me the importance of celebrating the little things and what meeting goals can do for motivation. 

From each of my students, I learned something different and used these insights to become a better tutor. I have seen how being a student’s supporter plays a large role in their academic progress. Many students love to please, and cheering on their successes can help them achieve their academic goals.  

More importantly, it is valuable to nurture the love of reading for the students from within, so students will want to continue to read by themselves once they leave my classroom. Doing this can be very difficult, especially if a student has a negative perception of reading or of their ability to learn or listen to instructions. This is why I believe teaching self-affirming behaviors and supporting them by developing caring relationships plays an important role in teaching students how to read