It is worth reminding ourselves that Robert Fulghum’s lessons from kindergarten were:
• Share everything.
• Play fair.
• Don’t hit people.
• Put things back where you found them.
• Clean up your own mess.
• Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
• 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 every day 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. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
• Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup-they all die. So do we.
• And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.
Though at Southside we prefer to promote healthy snacks, rather than warm cookies, Robert Fulghum’s words have an authenticity and effectiveness that is to be admired.
For example, it is easy to say that we value “honesty” and that statement has little practical value. Very few people will admit that they are not honest. Most will believe themselves to be honest even if they have taken something that doesn’t belong to them. An intelligent adult or child can easily rationalize such an action. In contrast “Don’t take things that aren’t yours” doesn’t use an emotive word like “honesty” or “stealing” and enables us to focus on the action we want to discourage, rather than labeling the person in a very negative way.
At Southside we pride ourselves on our ability to respond to “problems” in a calm and caring manner. Our aim is to help to build the sort of character that all parents want to see in their children. A good kindergarten needs to do many things well. However, the ability of our people to turn such problems into effective learning experiences is the hallmark of a great kindergarten.