Friday, July 30, 2010

Kindergarten wisdom

    I few years ago I put one of those plastic report sleeves up on my refrigerator.  I wrote at the top in permanent marker “Poem of the Week”  and for a while I did a great job of updating it every week.  Then I sort of slacked off and only updated it about once a month.  For the past six months or so the plastic sleeve has sat empty on the fridge, waiting for someone to remember to fill it.  The other night, as I pondered the upcoming start to our sixth year of home schooling, I remembered a poem I had read years ago…

 All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
- by Robert Fulghum

Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.

These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work some every day.

Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder.

Remember the little seed in the plastic cup. The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup - they all die. So do we.

And then remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK . Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation, ecology and politics and sane living.

Think of what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world - had cookies and milk about 3 o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and clean up our own messes. And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

 I love, love, love this poem!  It may just be our “Poem of the Week” all year.  My fourth child will be entering kindergarten this year and though I will also be teaching 6th grade, 4th grade, and 2nd grade I am most confident about kindergarten, when life is simple and learning is still fun.  I may never perfect teaching the ever increasing complexity of math lessons or the tedious monotony of spelling tests, but as Mr. Fulghum points out, I really am doing all right as long as I teach my children to hold hands and stick together.

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