Bottom line = times have changed, but children have not. What they need and want is the same as it has always been. Academics are one thing, but in order to get there, children have to be grounded in the most important things in life.
I have taught preschool for over thirty years, and I know children and what they need. It’s all the little things that mean the most, as they become the big things in life.
A few years after I got my feet wet teaching, I read Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. That had a profound influence on my career. His opening essay seemed to take all the stars in the sky and bring them to earth in a simple package; for me it validated what I was learning, and how I was teaching children.
I knew that the ‘little things’ mattered the most, because they were really the big things in life. I felt renewed, and I followed my common sense and also my heart in teaching. I paid close attention to children and I began to become a child myself. That made me human to children. In that way, I could truly teach. And I do.
Here is his essay:
Most of what I really need
To know about how to live
And what to do and how to be
I learned in kindergarten.
Wisdom was not at the top
Of the graduate school mountain,
But there in the sandpile at Sunday school.
These are the things I learned:
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life –
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.
I still have this essay, folded and slightly yellowed. I read it from time to time. It’s important. Today children live in a bigger world. COVID has had a huge impact on their schooling. There’s a much larger lens out there, and what they see is often tainted with lures that influence their thinking. Sadly, those lures influence their heart. If we, parents and teachers and adults, can stick with teaching children the important things, like Robert Fulghum did, that’s the best teaching we can do. Being loved and being valued = learning love and values.