As Mitchell walked into 6th grade today, I found myself reflecting on the lessons his Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Kimberly Michael taught us both. I never expected the training I received as a parent. Apparently, I needed it as much as Mitchell needed Kindergarten–even more so. When your children enter a real school setting in Kindergarten, the game changes. They are no longer just your babies. They are the newest bunch of hopefuls in the school. They are adorable, small and curious. They are full of wonder and questions and taking it all in. But so are the parents. We too feel small, curious and full of wonder. We are not sure what will happen or how things will go. Where do we drop off, can we walk them in? What if they get sick? The questions were endless, but she was patient. Below are some of the most important things we learned from her and about ourselves and our children.
She trained us all to be independent – I will never forget the first day of school. She ushered in all the parents and their children. We all sat down and she read us this wonderful story of growing up and being more of a BIG BOY and a BIG GIRL. Next thing the parents knew we were being ushered out into the hall and she gently shut the door, closing us off from our children. She began her class. We as parents also began life with kindergartens. NONE of the children cried. Most of the moms did. We all stood bewildered not sure what to do or where to go. She taught us that the children were ours at home but hers at school. They learned to ask to go potty and go alone. They learned to line up without much prompting and she taught them to transition better from activity to activity. We learned as our children learned.
Children transition better than you expect- As we stood outside of her classroom door that first day, it took us all about 5 minutes to process what happened. Thank goodness our children are faster learners than we were. We all walked slowly to our cars in a daze. All of us in tears. We had just handed our babies over to a virtual stranger. Our children, on the other hand, had a ball. Their names were on all their belongings in the classroom. They were enjoying new sights and sounds. The freedom away from mom was glorious and not scary at all. This lovely woman they were with was so much fun and her room was full of ALL things a child would enjoy. She had a reading nook, a dress up play area and a small loft area to play in. To make things even more magical they got to walk to Spanish and music classes and have recess on a brand new playground. We as parents had to catch up with the rapid adjustment our children were making.
She allowed us to let go and not be afraid. In learning to let go, we learned not to be afraid of what our children were learning. This was all part of the process of them growing up. As a group, I think we were all astounded at parent/teacher conferences when she told us how much our children had progressed and how we could help at home. Mitchell and I worked on handwriting and waiting our turn. I let him assert his independence even when he was not with her. He became more confident and sure of himself as a result.
Great communication– Mrs. Michael not only taught our children to communicate better with her, she taught them to communicate with each other. it was amazing to see them work things out with their words. At this age, they are all still fantastic communicators. What a great skill for them to have, most especially in this incredible techie world. Mitchell and his classmates are capable of communicating well on their own. Half of them walked in today and did not have schedules. They are well prepared to tackle that.
She cried at graduation– She came to graduation to see her class head off on the next leg of their journey. She cried at their progress and ours as parents. If we had doubts about how much she cared about our children, they all disappeared when we saw how emotional she was at graduation.
We will never forget her-my son still counts her as his favorite teacher. She is definitely mine! Her goal was to make them independent and ready for the flight out of the nest. The motto of the school is “teaching eagles to fly”. Mrs. Michael did that for us.
She taught us so many things for which I am grateful. we all are. But what we all loved about Mrs. Michael is that she loved our children well, even after they left her class. For that, we cannot thank her enough! Our babies are now in 6th grade and while this transition is hard, it is not nearly as hard as Kindergarten, we are well prepared.