Have you spent anytime recently in the presence of a kindergartener? Well, if so I hope you are as spellbound as I.
There is a certain magic about a kid mastering the sounds of letters and pronouncing words, as if sifting through a treasure chest of great toys. The energy that a little one exerts when puffing out initial sounds, medial vowels, and ending consonants is simply exhausting. Yet, it is fired by the thrill of ‘owning’ those words– so when their little eyes spy them on the page the words are not strangers but friends.
Recent recollections of three particular kindergarteners has left me in a curricular euphoria. The wee-sized scientist who mystified his
older brother by showing three states of matter…solid, liquid, and gas with the well-known ‘inflate the balloon with baking soda and vinegar’ experiment. The curiosity and determination of building musical experiments with paper plates, peanuts, cardboard, glue, and chocolate wafers, was unmatched. Little fingers which shape the letters on a page with a determined pencil and outlook is their pathway to literacy.
And yes….the funny comments, too. Like the one grandson who came home the first week of school, tossed down his book bag, and pushed up his glasses and exclaimed: “Do you know that kindergarteners have to go ALL day? It’s soooo long! I’m exhausted!” Bad day at the office, huh, kid?
It is announcing that the class gets a pizza party and when the parent said, “Yes, I know” (he had read it in an email), the little one inquired, “Was it on the NEWS?” Their world is so small yet so big. They know about trapezoids, acquiring mathematical theory as easily as a song about holidays. And just about the time we think their childhood is slipping away, they climb into your lap and beg for a story, wiggle their loose tooth, and tell you about Santa.
Kindergarteners learn by watching as much as doing. One of my grandsons was relating to his mom about the day of sharing pets. He was naming which kid brought what critter, when he finally said, “And Jacob brought a goldfish.” When his mom asked how that went, our boy replied in all earnestness: “It was….quiet.” So sincere, so straightforward, and so funny.
I have to hand it to those ‘Early Childhood’ educators. Anyone who thinks the younger they are the easier it is, has not been in a K-1 classroom. It is exhausting! While those little guys can be cute, they can be demanding, short-tempered, frustrating, and suck the life right out of ya! Everything is vitally important, must be shared at this very second, has to be fair, and cannot wait! This goes for everything from bladder control to ‘what comes next after 19’. A kindergarten kid lives in the moment. No one is more important than the person speaking to them, and the glue can slide off the paper if they are engrossed in a tale from a pal. And if a band-aid is needed, in their mind it is time to call 911. Stat.
You know that poster that was around a few years ago that said, “Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten?” Think about it. The foundations of civilization are really rooted in these experiences: literacy, law and order, scientific principles, social interaction, mathematical equations, courtesy, honesty, creativity. A little kid sees worth in a broken crayon, a car with three wheels, the kid who cries. They are as forgiving as they are fun.
I could go on forever. Seeing the world through the eyes of a five or six year old is such an event of discovery. I don’t want to miss a thing.
Thankfully, they won’t allow it!