My youngest child is in kindergarten. I taught kindergarten for years. Kindergarten is kind of my thing. I know the curriculum well, and I’m here to tell you that many of us are failing it. Sure, we probably know our colours, can spell our name, and have stopped eating paste, but those are not the important lessons in kindergarten. No, the most important thing you learn in kindergarten is how to be a decent person. And judging by the state of the world, it seems a lot of us have forgotten those lessons.
Wouldn’t it be nice if adults could be sent back to kindergarten for a refresher? A little kindergarten night school professional development? If they could, here’s what they would learn.
Tried to merge in traffic lately? Talked to someone who keeps cutting you off mid-sentence? What about that feeling that it’s everyone for themselves when there are a limited amount of resources and the “me firsts” push through? If five-year-olds can figure out that a back and forth makes things much smoother, than we can too.
Okay, this one might be more metaphorical for us (though if you are an adult who litters, shame on you. Pick up your shit). We all cause chaos sometimes. We make mistakes. We create messes. If we paid attention to our kindergarten teachings, we would know that if you mess it up, you clean it up. If you created the chaos, find a solution.
And your inside voice. Stick up for yourself, say what you need or want, and do it firmly, but do it respectfully. Being assertive is encouraged. Being aggressive is not.
Eat good foods. Exercise. Take a nap.
If that means sporting a feather boa and a hard hat, so be it, but for most adults this means finding something we enjoy and can throw ourselves into. Make some art. Enjoy some music. Play a sport. It doesn’t matter what, but make time for creative expression.
'Please' and 'thank-you' are as important at thirty-five as they are at five. So is 'I’m sorry.' Basic courtesy is a must too. Hold a door open, say you’re welcome, volunteer for big things or little. Add positivity to your interactions.
Sometimes, it’s someone else’s turn to speak. Sometimes, something we want is in use. People might be busy, it might not be time yet, or a process takes time. Remember how it feels to not have instant gratification.
Look for people who don’t have support, or seem to be struggling. Extend kindness to those who need it. Put yourself out there and meet people outside your comfort zone. You might make a lifelong friend.
Make sure you meet your own needs and take care of yourself. If you’re struggling with something, ask for help. Take responsibility for your belongings and your actions.
Have fun! Be silly! Don’t take yourself too seriously. Not every lesson has to take place at a desk, and not everything worth doing has to be objectively productive. Having fun for the sake of fun is not time wasted.
So, while we may be able to read and write, and we know what two plus two equals, we seem to have forgotten the real kindergarten basics. Give yourself a refresher. And if you’re confused, ask a five-year-old for help.