The first week of kindergarten had a different atmosphere at my school this year. Most years, from my post between K classrooms and the office, I see students in several mind-sets, from hysteria or wide-eyed panic to glazed-over sensory overload.
The kinder teachers usually bring their classes through the library and introduce me, to familiarize them with their new digs. I am generally gazed at with quiet puzzlement, as they know what a library is, but don’t really understand what the heck I do there or whether, at that point, I am friend or foe.Mostly I am just one more thing in the first-week kaleidoscope.
This year we had kinders with some swagger goin’ on. This year, a good many of the newbies looked at me calmly, smiled and some even waved. From whence came their confidence? They were the ones with older siblings, already in grades ahead of them. This meant that most of them had been cruising the campus for several years, had hung out while mom volunteered in the classroom and sometimes played with my coloring books in a corner of the library.
They did not hesitate to let me know just who they were and that meeting me was kind of old news.
They weren’t rude. They were just relaxed. They knew the lay of the land, they knew at least one of the teachers, several of the PTA moms and where to find the Dr. Seuss books.
I chuckled as one teacher read aloud the kindergarten class mission statements, posted on the library wall. They were pretty simple and straightforward at the kinder level. Mrs. Jones’ class would “Work to treat others as you want to be treated. Do your best every day. Keep your school clean,” and the like. But the younger siblings had heard it all before, and now wanted to know what the sixth-grade mission statements said. The minute the teacher complied, reading from the more complex statements, she was bombarded with more questions. What’s a steward of your school? What does success mean? What are solutions? She swiftly realized where this was headed and hustled her bright and curious bunch back to class.
On the next wall is a Grateful Graffiti board, where all can contribute a sticky note. One second-grade class all contributed. Most were grateful for “the whole world” or “the universe” or friends, family, pets and teachers. But my favorites were the pragmatists, one grateful for cake and one for living by the beach.
My heart went out to one small introvert, who wanted nothing more than to just sit in his chair in the classroom. He scarcely spoke and turned down both recess and
Sometimes in life, especially that first week of kindergarten, less is just enough.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer, who enjoys watching tomorrow’s leaders take that first step. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.