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5 Things I Learned from My Kindergarteners

5 Things I Learned from My Kindergarteners

Robert Fulghum told us All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. It may be true that many of life’s best lessons can be traced back to the first year of elementary school. However, in my five years of teaching Kindergarten, I find I have picked up just as much wisdom from my Kindergarteners as I have imparted to them.

1. There is excitement in the smallest of events.

I cannot count the number of times in a week that one of my students comes to excitedly tell me something along the lines of “I’m buying lunch today!” Or “My dad is picking me up after school!” Or “I was up at six o’clock this morning!” It can be so easy to forget that many of the small things that happen to us are worthy of celebration, but my students are not that jaded yet.

2. Making new friends isn’t hard.

All it takes is finding out that the person sitting next to you likes cats, too. As adults, we often struggle with finding people to hang out with. It is not that difficult with kids. The lesson here is that sometimes all you need to do to connect with someone is to find something mundane you have in common; you might make a friend for life.

3. Learning really is fun!

It doesn’t even have to be something complex. Learning that a polar bear breaks a hole into ice to catch fish is exciting. I know I’m guilty of moaning and groaning about a training I need to attend or a course I need to take. It is worth remembering that if you approach the prospect of learning something new as an opportunity, learning really can be fun.

4. A blank piece of paper can be anything.

I generally use blank pieces of paper for one of two things: to map out items in a room or make a list. Just this year, my students have used a blank piece of paper to make: a card, a robot, a kite, a heart, and dozens of pictures they have given me or someone at home (or, in a very small number of cases, a friend in class). We often lose touch with our imagination among all our obligations. It’s not a bad idea to take a cue from the little ones every once in a while and give our imaginations a workout. Blank pieces of paper aren’t hard to find.

5. It’s okay to get dirty.

Kids don’t worry about diving into something messy, be it a mud puddle outside, a project involving paint, or gingerbread cookie dough. This is a lesson that each Kindergarten class I’ve had teaches me a little bit more about. I am not a huge fan of getting wet or dirty, nor am I a huge fan of my classroom becoming a disaster area. I have learned, though, that constantly trying to keep myself–and my classroom–clean, I am cramping my students’ style. By focusing on learning and playing first and cleaning second, everyone has more fun. And a little washable paint and cookie dough on a pair of pants isn’t the end of the world.

Children are in the business of learning. They are also in the business of teaching–and if we’re open to the lessons they have to offer, we can learn a great deal.

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