Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Your kindergarten teacher probably knew more about you than you realize

"Scott is a very mature, alert boy. He takes things too seriously and gets quite upset sometimes if he thinks he has done wrong. It is necessary that Scott not be pressured so he can relax, since he does do good work." -- Mrs. Dorothy Janes, kindergarten teacher, Mapledale Elementary School - January 29, 1976

"Scott has shown growth in his emotional stability. I have enjoyed having him in class." -- Mrs. Janes - June 11, 1976

With my mom's passing last summer, we inherited several boxes worth of photos and other memories. I didn't realize she had saved virtually every one of my report cards, including my end-of-year assessment from kindergarten.

I remember very little of this, but apparently it took me a while to get the hang of kindergarten. Actually, what took me a while to get the hang of was not immediately knowing how to do everything in kindergarten. If I got anything wrong (at all), I was on the verge of tears.

Mrs. Janes, my teacher, seemed to suspect that I was being pressured by my parents to be perfect. So she had me talk to the school psychologist. Then the psychologist talked to my mom and dad. When she found out they were two of the most laid back people you'll ever meet, she realized any pressure I was feeling was entirely self-generated, and she reported this to Mrs. Janes.

I don't remember exactly what happened next, but apparently Mrs. Janes sat me down and said, in effect, "Listen, you little freak, you have to relax. You're not going to be good at everything, and it's OK. That's why you go to school."

And from there, kindergarten was great. I didn't suddenly become Mr. Chill or anything, but I slowly began to understand that the world doesn't expect us to know everything.

My point is that it helps to have someone besides your parents who, early in life, gets you. And I'm willing to bet that, for many people, that person is your kindergarten teacher.

Teaching kindergarten is hard enough with "normal" kids. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to try and calm down little basket cases like me.

God bless the kindergarten teachers of the world. Many of us learned more than just letters, numbers, and how to tie our shoes from them (though for the record, Mrs. Janes taught me all of those things, too).


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