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.