Robert Fulghum says, “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” and he made a really good collections of essays based this premise. I love his essays, but this book made me wonder what I missed.
When I was five years old, our town didn’t offer kindergarten. I don’t think it fit the local budget. So I learned what I needed to know at home, under my parents’ guidance. I had a sandbox, a swing set, some kittens, puppies, a little brother, and some chores.
Don’t throw sand, don’t hit, and watch your mouth came first. Then I learned that the right to ownership carries the option to share. Brownie points could be earned by sharing with little brother. I also was given the responsibility to respect authority (parents), be kind (to little brother), and tell the truth (if you do something wrong, own it). Failure to do any of these resulted in consequences I didn’t like much.
All this gave me a good foundation for what I would learn in grade school. Our school day began with the pledge to the flag and Lord’s Prayer. We learned that we lived in a free country with a lot of rights. Oh, wow! The right to do what you want… ??? Yes, as long as what is learned in kindergarten (at home) is honored – respect for authority (teachers), be kind (to classmates), and tell the truth.
We soon learned that what the teacher meant when she said, “Your freedom to swing your fist ends where the other fellow’s nose begins.” Experience soon proved that encroaching on someone else’s rights had consequences when the nose owner’s right to self-defense came into play.
Yes, I agree. Everything I needed to know I learned early. Respect authority, kindness, and honesty pretty much form the foundation for everything one needs to know to get along in society. From my experience as a child, and as a parent, the biggest responsibility for this learning and teaching experience is in the home.