Kindergarten: The Good, The Gross, and The Amazing

You remember Bill, don't you?

You remember Bill, don’t you?

Back in the Dark Ages, before WiFi and SmartBoards, when Bill Nye the Science Guy was still cutting-edge, I began teaching. My first assignment was kindergarten and I liked it and thought I’d try it out for a while since “I’m no kindie lifer.” Fifteen years later, I’m still in Kindieland, but it’s not because it has gotten easier, it’s because I continue to learn. Every day. Teaching Kindergarten has clarified my gross threshold. I can calmly bandage a scraped knee. I can witness a child throw up and clean up vomit without batting an eye. Nose bleed? No problem. I am a

star when it comes to yanking out loose teeth. But on any given day, I am one booger away from tossing my lunch. Even writing it down makes me – hold on a second….ok, I’m fine now. I have learned that simple things are really complicated. Don’t believe me? Pop into a kindergarten hall at Home Time (okay, really, any time). Among the most challenging of tasks are the following:

  1. Putting on boots/sandals/running shoes
  2. Putting on a coat/jacket
  3. Zipping a coat
  4. Unzipping and removing a coat because someone thought the teacher wouldn’t notice they hadn’t put on their snow pants (this applies only in winter, we’re not cruel)
  5. Numbers 1-3
  6. Zipping up a backpack (easier if mittens aren’t already on, but that strategy is met with great resistance)
  7. Staying in line as the class travels outside
  8. Keeping one’s hands on one’s own body
  9. Not stroking the walls as we walk in the hall
  10. Refraining from applying excessive amounts of sunblock to self and others

Kindergarten has taught me to be a Jenga Master. Can’t fit your sandwich container back into the bag? A little twist, a flip – BAM! There you go. Backpack too full to cram in your library book? Just a little nudge to the right, a few shakes – all set!

Over the years, I have garnered many useful phrases:

I have yet to meet Arnold's standard of discipline

I have yet to meet Arnold’s standard of discipline

What are you learning when you squish him with a pillow?

We don’t lick our friends.

Only snack goes in your mouth.

I’m wondering what you’re learning when you put blocks down your shirt?

Sticking your tongue out has no power over me.

You don’t need to high-five my students, this is not a petting zoo.

If you have to lift, you can’t pretend that toot was accidental.

Steady, everyone gets a hula hoop – it’s not Hunger Games. 

There’s no crying in British Bulldog.

 This year I have had the privilege of a new assignment and I taught about 130 kindies every day while their teacher had planning time. It was crazy and busy and incredible. I learned so much from their educators and from those little people. Perhaps most of all, kindergarten has taught me that life really is made up of the small things:

Recognizing your name for the first time is empowering.

Snow is its own kind of amazing.

Reading your first book on your own is unforgettable (for the teacher, too).

Dancing is fun, and even better when your teacher dances with you (with abandon).

Sometimes, a hug really does make everything better.

Now I cannot wait to see what is in store for next year. What are some of your memories from kindergarten? Good, bad, or ugly, don’t be shy.

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About Jan Moyer

Embracing my inner child since 2005. View all posts by Jan Moyer

36 responses to “Kindergarten: The Good, The Gross, and The Amazing

  • Evelyn

    That’s what’s wrong with me….I didn’t do kindergarten….seriously….I stayed home an extra year….When I found the book entitled “Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten”, it all started to make sense…What would you recommend?

  • Ricky Anderson

    I figured out how to lie my way out of trouble.

    Oh, you were looking for heart-warming lessons, weren’t you? Sorry.

  • Tracy

    LOVE it, I giggled all the way through this one.!!!!!!!! Work if NOT boring on Kindieland!!!!

  • Campbellatte

    There are moments of absolute cuteness. There are also moments when ‘they’ use their cuteness for evil. It makes me love going to work every day. Mostly.

  • abby

    Things I have learned while teaching kindergarten:
    1. Those who need it most, fight rest time the hardest.
    2. A single fly in the classroom can send the week into a tizzy.
    3. Broken crayons still color.
    4. Sometimes a bathroom break takes a long time because when one strips completely naked to pee, it takes a while to get dressed.
    5. Also, “the hand dryers are only for our hands” is a phrase I never thought I’d have to say.
    6. Glitter was invented by the devil.
    7. “When we walk in line, if the person in front of you stops, you stop.” Didn’t think I’d have to explain that one.
    8. And, I never thought I’d have to include “A frosting sandwich is not part of our wellness plan. Please do not send one in your child’s lunch.” in the parent letter.
    9. Velcro shoes are a teacher’s best friend.
    10. If you have a pet fish, some one will give it a hunk of play-dough to play with because “he looked bored and sad.”

  • nfriegang

    I also teach K and I find myself saying, “What do you think I might say about that?” a lot. And they know what I will say…it’s amazing! It’s a really tough job that I love so very much.

  • Beki Romeis-Markham

    Wow. That’s all I really have to say. I’m going into my seventh year of teaching K in Southwest Florida, and I’m seeing are many differences-
    I’m not allowed to touch teeth or vomit (but I have first aid cert so that skinned knee is a piece of cake)
    90% of the kids who come to me have been through VPK, so they know their names, some letters, and classroom behaviors when they get to me
    What are “snow pants?”
    What is rest time?

    But I see several similarities, too…

    ~If all of the pencils disappear, check Tommy’s seat sack (name changed)
    ~Yes, coloring inside the lines is the overall goal on this paper. No, it can’t all be pink.
    ~Are you blue? Then why is your self-portrait all blue?
    ~Sharing a good book with a friend is still comforting
    ~Nobody EVER says no to a dance party, or an ice cream cup!
    ~The world ends when your friend says they are not your best friend
    ~We pee in the toilet, not the trash can
    ~Baby wipes are for hands and faces, not shoes or your friend’s face/hair/elbows
    ~If it looks yummy, someone’s gonna eat it. Especially if it’s made with glue or playdough
    ~The new center is GOLD and everyone must try it immediately!!!!11!!!!!!!1!!!!!!
    ~Parent drop off is running smoothly. Sending parents back to work after a trip or ceremony? DEVASTATION.
    ~Do we ever throw things at each other? Then why did you throw the stick?
    ~If you say you have a surprise in the morning, be sure that they’ll still remember after lunch.
    ~Little people can use big language. Calling parents for it is never fun.
    ~Making kids cry isn’t fun. Even when they really deserve it.
    ~Your work isn’t ever finished before summer break, then you can’t wait to get back to school!
    ~Your whole life is seen through Kindergarten glasses, and taking glee in the Dora valentines you received will have other adults look at you funny
    ~Every gift, no matter how small, is priceless to the child who gave it to you or made it for you, but sometimes it goes straight into the garbage at the end of the day for sanitary reasons (you don’t want to know).

  • Lois

    I can totally relate to this article having taught kindergarten for the last six years. I have taught everything from K to high school science and K is by far my favorite. It helps when you have the world’s best aide. My favorite part of the day is read-aloud time. I get to be the Academy Award winning actress I always knew I was. But on the gross factor, definitely the boogers and snot sneezes bring me to gags.

  • Glenda Stewart

    I have taught both Pre-k and Kinder…One of the things we do…we give thumbs up your body is working when anyone passes gas. I explain that gas has to get out or their body will explode. The children use this at home, too. Parents are impressed. It takes the embaressment out of the moment, Expecially, when there is a very potent smell!

  • Kristin

    Me: “Did you eat my paint?”
    Kid: Shakes his head
    Me: “Open your mouth”

    It looked like he ate a smurf. From the giant blue paint pump.

    And have you ever had to say, “Please don’t drink my glue!”, more than once and had to modify their art projects because they were banned from the glue. So they left teeth marks in your crayons instead?

    And one more, if someone tells you the boom-boomed on the floor, it does not mean they danced on the floor.

  • Kristen Ryan

    I have been teaching Kindergarten for 20 years, things I have found: It is really fun to play in the bathroom. Even when you tell them the jelly beans in the math game are older than they are, someone is going to eat them. Smelly markers end up in their nose, You can start any discussion in the direction you wish it to go, but it always makes a circle back to something dead. For example. This is a picture of a pond…. I like a pond…. I have a pool….. I like to fish… I had a fish… my fish died… my dog died… my grandpa died…. I saw a dead raccoon. The look on their face when they realize all those symbols you have been showing them actually make words, that they can read… all by themselves. That look is why I stay.

  • Robin Carrier

    “Step off of your carpet square before you try to pick it up.” That one sent the parents within earshot into fits of laughter… 🙂 LOVE my kinders!!!

  • Heather Langley

    If you think it’s a tootsie roll on the ground, it’s not! Trust me, it is not!

  • Patti

    You get a standing ovation for teaching them things we take for granted (the sound of A). Glitter is a thing of wonder, “You are the best teacher I have ever had!”, and finally, “You don’t go to 1st grade with us?” I love teaching Kindergarten!!!!!!!!

  • candace

    The one thing I learned in kindergarten is that those 5 and 6 year olds offer unconditional love. And that “special child” is never absent!

  • Devanie

    I learned that when the teacher asked if anyone wanted to sing a song, I would be able to sing “Do you know the muffin man?”, until the teacher would avoid me and plead with others if they wanted a song. I was always happy when others would not raise their hand and we could sing it again! I learned that even when the teacher was sick of the song, she would still sing it if I raised my hand even though her face looked tired and sad.

  • Mrs Cooper

    Working in in PreK
    You say “Keep your hands to yourself!” at least 20 times a day.
    You will always end up with glitter on your face even when you’ve not used it for a month.
    You learn that mummy’s idea of totally toilet trained isn’t the same as your’s.
    You have to be clear what you mean when you ask them to paint their face.
    You should always be armed with tissues and ant-bac hand gel.
    Your heart will melt when they say they love you.
    Your heart will swell with pride when they manage to hold their pencil/ draw a picture/ write their name/ count to 10/ take their finger out of their nose.

  • Wonder Woman Jan Moyer | people I almost know

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