My Addy survived year one of school without the following: a broken bone, playground brawl, office visit (that I’m aware of) or lost Chromebook.
Things she did accomplish in kindergarten: trips to the nurse’s office, being the official reminder to her teacher for “snack time,” asserting her opinions and ideas onto others and, thankfully, some ABCs, counting to 100 and lot of reading.
Her first year in her tiny elementary school — the one named for the city itself — proved to be a fascinating one for her and this proud dad.
Each week, Addy would bring home three flimsy, paperback books in an envelope. We were to read these, mark the level of difficulty (for Addy, not us) and return them. This singular practice may have been the biggest indicator for me of her progress this year, thus reinforcing what we all know to be true about reading – the more the better.
Summer goals, also reinforced: read some books with her.
Those walks to and from school often revealed details of the day that were the most significant in her kindergarten brain: recess activities, that she bumped into Mrs. Eames in the hallway, meeting a new classmate or the hierarchical breakdown of who’s in charge of dolling out tasks and setting the rules at Kid’s Country, her after-school program.
My daughter most assuredly learned some lifetime lessons on how to assert herself, when she should be listening, how to win friends and influence people and, why, for the darn 10,000th time, it is essential she raise her hand and be the best listener she can be.
We take these conversations with our children to heart because, as I’ve noticed time and again, Addy can repeat just about anything I’ve said back to me. And she, too, takes it all to heart. We have to cautiously discuss the difference between “bossy” and “assertive,” “forceful” and “confident.” And it’s imperative we learn that in small groups, everyone should have a voice. Because the best ideas come when respect and listening is valued above all else.
Kindergarten was a time to learn that sixth-graders can and will be leaders, when your book buddies help you through the tough words, when kickball rules and regulations are molded and when playing tag means that, most likely, you’re going to scrape some knees and cut your hands a little. And all that is more than OK.
Addy learned to stand up for herself and to stand up for others. And that being a helper and a good citizen is going to get you further than racing through a project to be first to finish it.
From time to time, I would volunteer in different capacities at Lee’s Summit Elementary, each time reveling in the fact that I got to witness Addy in her element – wild games of chase on the playground, immersed in music, headphones on in the classroom or simply walking in the hallway.
Rightfully so, every elementary school in our town lays a claim to being the best, boasting the finest teachers and staff around.
I can tell after just one year at Lee’s Summit Elementary, my experience was the education and care provided flows straight from the heart of every adult. It’s something each child must truly feel, even in the sometimes trying and challenging times elementary school can provide.
Now, if I can just get Addy to listen more and raise her hand. Perhaps those are also summer goals, too.