I don't think anyone remembers their first day of kindergarten. Well, unless you had a particularly traumatic day, then maybe you remember it. Let's face it, kindergarten was a long time ago. Longer than I care to admit.
To start this school year off, I am not only taking a whole bunch of online classes but I am also working in a kindergarten classroom. I have a lot of experience working with children but it is mostly with older kids. Kindergarten is fairly new to me. It's exactly how I envisioned it too. We read books, we sing the alphabet, we play, we learn to raise our hands and we write our names in colorful crayons. It's way more fun than stinky high school algebra and chemistry. However, it is a lot of work for these kids. They're very little, they have lots of energy and they're in a whole new environment. Since school has started they've learned a lot already. I, however, have learned more than they have just by working with them.
1. Saying Goodbye
I've learned that it isn't easy for the parents to let go of their kid's hand and turn it over to the teacher. It breaks mommy and daddy's heart. I've learned that the harder it is for mom and dad, the harder it is for the child too. They feed off their parents' emotions. It's like a bandaid - show no fear and rip it off. Let go of their hand with a smile on your face. Just do it.
I've learned that the cute bread-shaped tupperware containers for sandwiches are the work of the Devil. Five year olds simply cannot manage putting the lid back on. Square tupperware makes everyone's life easier. It's hip to be square.
I've learned that velco is the greatest invention of all time. Shoe laces are evil. No kid should have to wait in line to have the teacher tie their shoes. Precious recess time is at stake. Velco, velcro, velcro! Did you hear me? VELCRO!
I've learned a lot about backpacks too. If you're going to sport Thomas the Train or Disney Princess, you need to write your name in big black letters so it doesn't get confused with everyone else's identical backpack. Walmart backpacks are the best too. They have one easy to use zipper. That cool North Face backpack that you thought was so awesome? Too many zippers, doesn't stand up on its own and all-around not kindergarten friendly. Evil.
5. Zippers and Arms
I've learned that zippers are evil. Sweaters, raincoats and jackets are all necessary. However, waiting in line for the teacher to fix all the inside out arms and then zip all the zippers is another waste of precious playground time. Do pull-over raincoats exist? Someone should invent those and then sell them to all the kindergartners. They'd make millions.
I've learned that children have to pee all the time. Especially after you teach them a cool sign language symbol for the bathroom. I don't think they even have to go. They just want to try and make the cool T (for toilet, not P for pee like I expected) sign and see what happens. I've learned that not everyone realizes that the door needs to be shut. Furthermore, I've learned that not everyone knows that you have to rinse the soap off your hands. Let's be clear, I'm elated that they wash their hands. But not rinsing the soap? I didn't see that one coming.
I've learned that names are a tricky thing. It's definitely helpful to be able to write your own name. It's even more helpful to be able to recognize your name. In kindergarden your name is written everywhere. It's on your hook, it's on your chair, it's on the wall and it's on your jacket. Life is much easier if you can find your name.
If I ever have a kindergartner of my own this will be my goal:
I will drop them off with a great big smile and hug while they wear their Walmart, one zipper, cartoon backpack with their name stenciled in huge, gigantic letters across the top. Of course, they will be able to recognize their name too and be able to spell it all by themselves. They will wear only velcro shoes and save the laced ones for home. Their sweaters will be vests and all be pullovers. If they get cold, tough. They'll survive. Also, lunch will be packed in a velcro lunch box with all square containers. Or maybe I'll just go with baggies. I don't care if it is green or not. They won't have a juice box because straws are evil so juice will be packed in an easy-to-open water bottle. They will not pull their pants down in the hall, they will know to wait until the bathroom door is closed. On second thought, maybe we'll skip the whole juice thing so they never have to pee. When they wash their hands they'll sing the ABC song while they scrub and then be sure to rinse their hands and use minimal paper towels so not to be wasteful. Finally, their name will be something that is easy to write, like Ace or Mo or Rex. There will be no Kathryn (my name) or Marissa (my sister). Or maybe if they do have a long name I'll just give them a made up name to use for kindergarten. That way they won't have a hard time spelling it. Of course, they might get confused and have an identity crisis later in life, but whatever. At least they'll have survived kindergarten.
I'm glad my non-existent kid will be so perfect.
Disclaimer: I love kids and I think working in kindergarten is awesome. Furthermore, I would never send my kid out with a vest in a snow storm. Let's be real. I realize this is all easier said than done.