Just to loop back on the question from the previous post (Do You Believe in Me?) it would seem that knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing in school just might help you believe in yourself as a learner. Do students know why they’re doing the work ? Are they really interested in it, or is it just there, and must be done?
So maybe the best place to go to check this out is where it all starts, Kindergarten. Kindergarten is a very big deal thing for kids and families. It’s the first time our kids really go out in public, and it seems a lot more high stakes to parents and families than preschool or daycare.
Kindergarten teachers know this, and they tend to be very accepting of the diverse little souls that come their way. They meet them where they are and go from there. No judgment or comparisons, and lots of support. I’m eternally grateful to them for the care they took with my own kids, and I now I have the chance to be grateful once again.
I went undercover last week and I took my twin grandsons to Kindergarten. They’re all excited about school; we in the rest of the family are the ones with the separation anxiety. We worry about whether they’ll eat their lunch, we worry that the day is is too long, we wonder if the other kids will be nice to them and whether anyone will notice when they’re upset, and we wonder if anyone besides us will understand that they’re the world’s most unidentical twins, with very different likes, dislikes and ways of looking at the world. You’d think as an educator I’d be less worried than most, but when it comes to family I can worry with the best of them.
It’s good to have these worries, because sometimes we educators forget that families are sending us their very hearts each day, along with a lot of hopes and fears. It’s a great honour, and an equally great responsibility.
Of course the twins were very much in charge once we got to school, showing me their cubbies, how they stowed lunches, returned books etc. They even signed in on the Smartboard, which was already covered with wobbly printing. One twin told me my suggestion that he sign in while his brother did was way off base. “We can only go one at a time,” he said, looking at me as if I’d just flown in from Crazytown. So much for that idea of mine, and so much for all those worries. Clearly these boys are loving their independence and being in the big leagues. And clearly, their teacher has already become an all-knowing deity to them.
We were welcome to stay and read with the kids for a few minutes while they settled in, and this was the best part of all. I could spend that little bit of time with them in their new world before I left them. This may help any children who are anxious, but the truth is it helped me more than it helped the twins. They rushed ahead when it was time to start the day, but I looked back at them as I left. The older you get, the more of that you do.
These little boys aren’t wondering why they’re learning; they just want more of it. So thank you, Ms. B and all Kindergarten teachers, for getting all our enthusiastic newcomers off to such a good beginning. Our youngest students believe in you, themselves and why they’re learning. Our challenge is to keep it that way.