Dropdown menu

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

All I need to know I learned in Kindergarten

I've been making some observations about kindergarten, and the more I see, the more I realize that it truly is the foundation for the development of our children.

You'd think that kids have a whole lifetime to develop who they are. What I've found is that even in kindergarten, it's pretty obvious who's going to succeed and who won't. Maybe some of the kids will beat the odds. But sadly, I think a lot of the kids are stuck with the lot they drew unless something changes. I don't think this is because of some natural talents they do or don't have. It is completely due to their parents.

I help out in the classroom a couple times a month. What I have observed is that the children who are the smartest, the most adjusted, the best behaved, and yes, advanced, are the ones whose parents are actively involved in their child's education. The kids I see struggling the most are the kids whose parents do not help in the classroom. And yes, I know, not everyone can take time off work, etc. But the sad thing is, those are the kids who also don't bring in their completed homework folders. Every day, we drop off and pick up the kids from school. The parents I know by name, or at least by sight-their kids are the "smart" kids. The kids who struggle-I've never seen their parents. Or, as is the case of one parent I want to kill, they stop in the middle of the street, open the car door and shove the kid out.

I think about that mom a lot. I think about her kid a lot. I pray for them. See, mom is relying on the school system to raise her child. It's the school's responsibility to teach the child, to socialize the child, to tell the child what's important. We have such a sense of entitlement-that the schools and teachers are going to give our children what they need because that's their job. This child never brings the homework folder back to school. I know this because I've never seen the child carrying it, and the child does not have a backpack. Just walks in to get educated. The trouble is, if you aren't doing the work at home, even though it's not graded, you don't get the practice needed to move ahead.

But even more than the academic development, I've had the opportunity to witness the social development of these children. My daughter is not afraid of sharing her faith. I've watched her friends ask her (and me!) questions. It's amazing the sort of things a child will share while coloring a picture. One little girl touched my wedding ring in amazement that I would have such a beautiful piece of jewelry. She was even more amazed that my husband would give it to me. Adding to her amazement was that we'd gotten married before we had our daughter. Being around this little girl gave me the opportunity to show her a side of life she had no idea existed. It was outside her paradigm to think that people got married and then had children. I didn't have to preach Jesus at her (and you should definitely be careful doing so in a public school setting), but I still was able to show her a different side of life.

Another little girl asked me about church (the kids have sharing time, and my daughter shared what she did in church the previous day). She told me that church was a boring place where you had to sit still and listen or else you got in trouble. She was amazed to know that it could also be a fun place. And that Jesus wasn't just about following the rules. I didn't have to preach to her-but when she asked if there really was a church where you could have fun, I gave her an answer. I know the kids in my daughter's class who love Jesus, because they all proudly told me that after my daughter shared her day at church. I even know the ones who are cynical about Jesus. How sad that 5 and 6 year olds have developed that cynicism.

I say these things because I want to let you know how important it is to be involved with your kids. Even in kindergarten, I am learning about the facets of these kids and their personalities. I see what my child is growing up around. The opinions that are being shared with her. How she handles and influences those opinions. Even in kindergarten, there are the kids who begin to conform and find the group of friends to do everything exactly alike. I can see the rebellion already forming in some of these kids.

I can't protect her from all the dangers of the world. When she grows up and is facing challenges on her own, I can't shelter her from the wackos out there. But I hope that I will have given her the right tools for dealing with situations outside her normal scope of life. I hope that she will be equipped to be a positive force for change in the world around her. But I also hope that by being there, some of the kiddos who would otherwise not have hope would have a spark of something good in their lives.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

This is so true. I hate to say it, but by the time they reach the grade level I teach (6th), you already know which ones will fail and which ones will go on to do great things. (You also know which ones will be in jail by the time they're eighteen, but that's another story). It's sad, isn't it? But you try to make a difference where you can.