By Bromley Chamberlain
Do you remember kindergarten? Playing with all the toys, the teacher reading at story time, playing house and learning to tell time?
Do you ever wish you could return to that time in your life when you had no worries, no bills, and made crafts all day?
Tommi Christiansen has returned to kindergarten, but this time around she’s teaching it. She went from teaching high school math and science to teaching at Bluffton School.
Christiansen comes from a long line of teachers. Her mom was a playschool teacher for 15 years and her dad was a professor at the University of Alberta for years and years.
She was a substitute teacher at the school for the past five years and applied for the position when it became available.
“One of the things that I enjoyed about being a substitute teacher is that you get to go to lots of different schools,” Christiansen said. “One of the things I’ve really enjoyed at the Bluffton School is that I’ve found the staff are very friendly and supportive. I think it’s a real privilege to be working with them this year.”
When the part-time position became available Christensen thought it would work best for her family.
She loves working with the kids, but says they can be a handful. At the end of the day, she sometimes asks herself why she applied, but is easily reminded by kids waving from the bus and saying goodbye. It makes it all worthwhile when kids remind teachers how much they’re needed and appreciated.
Tommi can easily talk to the children and have them obey her directions. Her mother has been a huge influence and help over the past month. Having a background in early childhood education, she is helping Christiansen to ease into the role of being Bluffton’s kindergarten teacher.
Last week was Fire Prevention Week and Christiansen had a whole slew of activities planned, fire hoses, fire songs, goggles and more.
It can take me two hours to plan an activity, and it’ll only take 20 minutes to do,” she said.
Kindergarten requires more lesson planning than high school since the children need constant direction and cannot work from textbooks.
“I used to teach in Lacombe at the high school, before I had children, then after I had kids, I stayed home to be with them,” she said.
She studied at the University of Alberta and received her bachelor of education degree and specialized in secondary education.
“Going to kindergarten is a real switch. I also figure if I’m crazy enough to teach math, I’m probably crazy enough to teach kindergarten. They are a sweet group of kids,” Christiansen said. “For Bluffton we have a huge class. We have 17 children. It is a big group of kids and like I’ve said, we’ve had three days so far and they’re a really nice group of kids.”
Her favourite her favourite activity with the kindergarten class is storytime.
“I think so much can be learned through story telling and through storybooks, even though singing. Whether we’re learning the days of the week or learning alphabet sounds or numbers, using music the kids really respond well to music,” Christiansen said.
She sees teaching at the school as a great opportunity to grow as a teacher and has had a lot of support from her mom and friends.
“Teaching can be looked at as a gift. It’s something I enjoy doing and I love being with children. I guess that’s always been my direction,” she said.