Like many of you, we are wrapping up the school year around our home. For us, this was our first year with a child in school, all day every day. At my daughter’s last parent teacher conference of the year, I was amazed at all that she had learned this year. I was proud of all the ways she had grown and matured. As I have reflected on how much my daughter has learned in kindergarten, I realized I have learned a thing or two (or countless things) from her this year.
Everyone is a Friend
Perhaps this was the most significant and recurring thing I learned or was reemphasized to me rather. From the very first day, our after school conversations always included discussions about her friends from school. What they played on the playground, who she sat by at lunch when someone said something unkind. Most days when the van door opened for dropoff, my daughter went running out to greet a friend. Whenever she met someone new, she always told me, “I met a new friend today”. Is my perspective the same?
Be a Safe Space
I learned my daughter’s thoughts in different ways, most of which did not include her answer to the question “How was your day?” (That answer was always “good”). For her, it was often at bedtime, when she would tell me about something hard that happened at school. Or on the way home, when out of nowhere she bursts out with, “I moved my clip to pink today! I met my goal!” Or sometimes it came in a moment of intense emotion, which was over in a minute or two, but taught me just how hard she was trying to be good and kind and to work hard. It taught me that I needed to be a safe space for her to be heard at the end of the day.
Little Things are a Big Deal
Getting to the school gym early to walk with friends? Big Deal. Finishing a picture for your teacher before school, even if it makes you leave two minutes late? Big Deal. Saying hello to every person you pass on the way inside? Big Deal. I know I know this, but it was made even clearer to me on several occasions this year that little things are often big things. For a five year old, those little things could make or break their day. What little things do I do to make someone’s day?
Life is Fun
So many things happened in kindergarten for my little five-year-old that were fun. A party earned for good behavior. Riding on a real school bus for a field trip. Writing notes to others with your new found skills. Every day it seemed there was something “so fun!” that happened. It taught me to make sure I was having fun on a daily basis and to not take life so seriously.
So while my daughter grew by leaps and bounds this year, and surprised me with all she now knows as a brand new first grader, I learned some pretty important things from her too.