We should be more like kindergartners. I’m not saying we should pick our noses and throw temper tantrums, but there are many traits about kindergartners that I think everyone should try to mimic.
Let me backup. Last semester, I didn’t think I was happy with my major, and I had what I call my “mid-college crisis”. After talking to my friends, my professors, and the education department, I decided that I was interested in becoming a teacher. Soon I was approved to start taking education classes and enrolled in the introductory class for this semester. The main requirement of this class is to observe a classroom for ten hours. Originally, I thought I wanted to be a high school business teacher, so I laughed when I got placed in a kindergarten classroom. However, as soon as I walked into the kindergarten classroom, I knew this was going to be a fun and exciting ten hours. Naturally, I expected to learn a lot about teaching; however, more than that, I learned about the attitude of kindergarteners. As a result, I think adults should act more like kindergartens in four ways.
1. We should get excited about small accomplishments. During my first day of observing, the kindergartners were learning how to spell new words. They all stood up and when the teacher said a word, they would all yell how to spell it. For instance, when the teacher said “what” they all yelled “W-H-A-T. WHHHHATT!” They all expressed such a pure joy and excitement for correctly spelling a new word. Little do they know that much more difficult words exist that they may never learn how to spell. I started thinking about how different my attitude toward school would be if I credited myself the way they do whenever I learned a new thing. I shouldn’t be intimidated by all of the information that I don’t know. Instead, I should celebrate my small accomplishments and look forward to all my future accomplishments. Next time you’re stressed about something you don’t know, take a minute to reflect on all of the things you have learned. Be excited about those little accomplishments.
2. We should apply “growth learning” more often. During another day of my observations, the class sat down to read “The Little Engine That Could”. At the end of the story, the teacher asked the class what the lesson of the book was. One kindergartner said the lesson was to be kind. Another kindergartner said the lesson was to learn about trains. The teacher then said, “Think about it more. Use your growth learning!”. The kindergartners were all encouraged to think outside the box in order to find a deeper meaning to a fairly straight-forward story. At this point, the teacher could have given them the answer, but instead she challenged them to keep thinking. Often times, I feel like I don’t have time to think. I just want someone to give me the answer so I can move on with my day. However, I am not using growth learning as often as I should. We should constantly challenge ourselves to find the answers and discover the deeper meaning in things. We should recognize that it’s okay to fail, only if we are able to learn from our failure. Our qualities and characteristics are not permanent; we have the power to make them whatever we want them to be if we continually use growth-learning.
3. Sometimes our problems feel like the end of the world. One day when the kindergartners were in PE, one girl was devastated that her bean bag was smaller than someone else's. She was crying and couldn’t seem to understand that she didn’t need a bigger bean bag in order to be successful in the game. To me, the size of her bean bag was not a real problem. There were much bigger problems in the world, and she could still play the game with the bean bag she had. As I thought about it more, I realized that everyone has their “bean bag” problems. There have been countless times when I am on the verge of tears while stressing out about an exam. There’s nothing that anyone can say that will calm me down or help me understand the bigger meaning of things. In the moment, my exam feels like the only problem that I have in the world. Just remember that at one point in our lives, not having the biggest bean bag was our biggest problem. In ten years, we’ll laugh about a test being the biggest problem we had. There are always going to be struggles in our lives, but they shouldn’t feel like the end of the world. It’s all in perspective.
4. Everyone needs a hug once in a while. During my ten hours of observation, I received and gave more hugs than I think I ever have before. Kindergartners would just run up to me, give me a hug, and then run off and play. I learned that sometimes the kindergartners also needed hugs. In the bean bag fiasco I mentioned before, I asked the girl if a hug would make things better, and she just nodded through her tears. A little hug and some words of encouragement made the situation much better (okay, and maybe she also found a big bean bag afterwards). The world would probably be a lot happier place if people got a hug and some encouraging words daily. Maybe we need to start hugging it out in upper Violette more often...just a thought!
In our society, we respect and admire people who are older than us. We try to mimic what they do in hopes that we can be as successful as them. We rarely look to younger people to learn a new lesson. Perhaps it’s because we’ve already lived through it and think we already know everything about it. However, I think it’s also important to take time to learn a little lesson from a group of five year old kids about life. Never underestimate who can be a teacher.