It’s back to school time and like many parents, I’m scrambling to make sure my kids are prepared. But while I was shopping for school supplies, going to parent orientations, and finding the perfect backpack, I started to reminisce on last year.
It was my kids’ first year in public school and they managed to make a smooth transition. In addition to the reading, writing, and arithmetic, my kids, Nee and N, picked up a few more lessons. Here are the top ten things that they learned:
Kids Eat Their Boogers
Nee was mortified when she witnessed one of her classmates stick a finger up his nose and devour the haul. I assured her that kids have been eating their boogers for generations. In fact, I witnessed my first booger eater in third grade. His name was Corby and I will never forget how my stomach turned after watching him chomp on his nose candy. Nee looked at me with a pensive glance, “Maybe Corby is my classmate’s dad,” she said.
On the first day of school, I met my N’s kindergarten teacher. She seemed friendly, enthusiastic, and filled with a love for teaching. When I picked N up later that day, I asked him if he liked his new teacher. He said, “She’s nice, but she yells too much.” I thought N was exaggerating until I went to the school to read to his class. I entered the classroom to find the teacher barking at the kids like a drill instructor. Her demeanor changed as soon as she noticed me. She smiled and started speaking in a soft, loving voice. After I left, I heard the drill instructor return. I asked N what he thought of all the yelling. He hunched his shoulders and said, “You get used to it.”
Before Nee attended public school, she attended a private Christian school. The school held the kids to a strict moral code and cheating was grounds for expulsion. One day, Nee was in class quietly doing her work when she heard a classmate whisper her name.
“Nee,” said the girl. “Let me see what you have for number five.”
“I’m not telling you the answer,” Nee responded covering her paper with arm.
“If you don’t let me see your paper, I won’t be your friend,” said the girl.
“I don’t care,” said Nee. “Just leave me alone.”
When Nee told me the story, I let her know that I was proud of her for doing the right thing.
“But I still can’t believe that she tried to cheat,” said Nee.
“This won’t be the first time that you will witness cheating,” I told her. “But I expect you to always earn your grades the right way – by studying and working hard.”
She smiled at me and said, “I will, Daddy. I promise.”
Boys Play Rough
The first week of school, N came home every day complaining that the boys were being mean to him. As I delved deeper, he explained that the boys always tackled him on the playground.
“Did the boys at your pre-school ever tackle you?” I asked.
“Well, they tried,” he said. “But I was too fast for them.”
“So how do you think you can keep them from tackling you at your new school?” I asked.
“I guess I’d better start running faster,” he said.
Some Rich Kids Are Jerks
“Daddy,” Nee said one night at dinner. “Are we rich?”
“No, we aren’t rich,” I said. “Why do you ask?”
“Because Zachary said that rich kids like him don’t have to study,” she said.
“Really,” I said.
“Yeah,” she replied. “He said that his dad owns many businesses and that he doesn’t need to learn because his dad buys him whatever he wants. And he tries to make us feel bad because we don’t live in a mansion.”
“Well, don’t let Zachary bother you,” I said. “With his attitude, he won’t be rich for long.”
You Can Turn an Enemy Into a Friend
N is an easy-going fellow who makes friends easily. However, he met a boy in his class who became his nemesis (his word). N and the boy quickly went about the business of recruiting classmates to be on their sides. N discovered that the other boy was more successful in his recruiting efforts and was able to amass an army that would overpower his team (again, his words). Realizing that he was out-gunned, N decided to form an alliance with his nemesis. Surprising, the boy accepted and together they peacefully ruled kindergarten as friends.
School Lunch is Gross
One night, after we had placed the kids to bed, Nee came downstairs with tears in her eyes.
“Daddy,” she said sobbing.
“Please don’t make me buy lunch tomorrow.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because it is so gross,” she said.
Since Nee has a penchant for the dramatic, I disregarded her statement and sent her back to bed.
A few weeks later, when I was at the school, I decided to try the lunch. One bite into it and I almost starting crying. I never made her buy lunch again.
Third Grade is Competitive
Last year, Nee managed to make it through the entire year with all As. Although she worked hard, two competitive classmates pushed her to excel. She was always comparing her grades to John’s and Lisa’s. Whenever they had a test, I got a report on who was in first, second and third place. I tried not to encourage the competition by telling Nee that I only wanted her to do her best. But Nee remained determine to get the highest grades.
“I just want to show them I’m the smartest,” she said.
Kindergarten is Much Harder Than Preschool
One day, when I arrived home from work, N and I had this conversation:
“How was work, Daddy?” Asked N. I was caught off guard by his question because he rarely asks about my day.
“Work was fine today,” I said. “I was really busy.”
“Me too,” said N.
“Really,” I said. “What kept you so busy?”
“I had SO much work to do,” he said. “I had to write some words, play, read a book, and do some hard math.”
“Hard math?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he replied. “I had to count ALL the way to 100.”
“Wow!” I said. “Kindergarteners have it SO hard.”
“I know,” he said.
A Great Teacher Makes All the Difference
Nee and N were able to have successful school year because of their teachers. Nee’s teacher, Mrs. Scott, pushed her to excel and to get out of her comfort zone. Because of Mrs. Scott’s encouragement, Nee ran for student Council, entered the Spelling Bee, and earned art and academic achievement awards. And although N’s teacher did yell, she managed to display care and concern. When I asked N about his concerns about the new school year he told me that he was afraid that he’d have a mean teacher.
“I just want someone nice like Mrs. Rightmayer,” he said.
Question: What have your kids learned at school beyond the regular curriculum?