Playing “tour guide” for the parents of incoming kindergarteners this morning, I couldn’t help feeling a little nostalgic. It wasn’t that long ago that I was holding a tiny, nervous hand in my bigger and more nervous one, as we made our way to the first in a long series of school tests. Sure, they call it a “kindergarten screening” but make no mistake-the kindergarten screening is your child’s first official test as he enters the world of elementary school.
What? He’s taking a test already? He hasn’t even started yet. Aren’t you supposed to teach him something first? Nope.
While dad is checking out the other incoming kindergarteners, trying to spot the redshirts who are already nine years old and have read the entire Harry Potter series-in Mandarin-and mom is looking around for other moms to be her new best friends, the teachers are evaluating your little angel’s motor ability, conceptual knowledge and language skills, not to mention his vision and hearing.
Talk about nerve wracking.
When Koss was pre-K they had the parents go into the evaluation with the children, but they’ve since wised up and now have the children go in on their own. Having a bunch of anxious parents hovering over them doesn’t exactly inspire natural behavior in most kids.
Hence the introduction of the PTA-provided tour of the school to help distract the nervous parents while their children are (hopefully, please, help me out here kid and I’ll give you a cookie) making wonderful first impressions on their new teachers.
Kindergarten does make a big impression, that’s for sure. It’s been 40 years and I can still remember my own first day of school like it was yesterday. It’s been almost seven years and I can still remember Koss’s first day of kindergarten like it was yesterday. I can’t remember yesterday, but that’s a whole different story.
The parents on my tour asked some great questions about parking and the playground, the cafeteria, cubbies and the computer lab. They asked about volunteering, donations, daycare and enrichment classes, but I neglected to share with them some of the things I remember about Koss’s kindergarten year.
He learned about the “bossy E,” who was simply silent when I went to school. He learned about raising his hand to get attention, and about taking turns and waiting patiently, although he still sometimes has issues with that one. He learned about spiders and wolves and coins and backpacks. He also learned about homework and projects and dioramas and which parent is better with counting and which parent is better with a glue gun. If you ask Koss, he’ll say the best thing that happened in kindergarten was he learned to love to read, surely a marvelous thing for any child, but especially for one without siblings.
If you ask me, the most important thing of all that Koss learned in kindergarten was to love going to school. He adored his teacher. I’ll never forget the dejected look on his face when I explained to him that he would have a different teacher for first grade. Thankfully he’s loved first grade, second grade on up through this year’s fifth grade with almost the same kind of relish. But kindergarten is special. Whether it was their first child to enter kindergarten or their last, I’m pretty sure that all of the parents were marveling that somehow their babies had reached that stage.
I know I’ll be feeling that way again before I know it. Junior High is right around the corner.