To All Kindergarten Teachers

My grandson is going to start Kindergarten in just  two weeks. I have taught Kindergarten for 23 years, so why am I so trepidatious about it? It is because of what I know as well as every kindergarten teacher knows. Kindergarten is a BIG step not only in the life of the child, but in the life of his parents.

Every new kindergartner's parents are feeling mixed emotions. "I am excited, but...". Parents need to know that their child will be loved and cared for. They need to know their child will be spending a huge chunk of time in a developmental setting -- experiencing the joy of learning, creating, and discovering.

I asked my daughter to write down her thoughts to remind each and every Kindergarten Teacher what it is all about. If you know a Kindergarten Teacher, please pass this on:

To my child’s Kindergarten teacher,

Please remember that I am trusting you with the most precious, beautiful, important part of my life. Please keep him safe. Please see what I see in him. Please don’t try to label him. He is who he is. Celebrate that. Please don’t focus on his test scores too much. They really don’t tell you much about him. For example, they don’t tell you that he’s a perfectionist. That he has an imagination the size of a nation. That he thrives on smiles and hugs. That he loves to paint--but never inside the lines. That he’s afraid of being ignored and alone. That he loves to work with his hands, but gets impatient that they’re not as strong as he’d like. There is so much more to him than how many letters he knows and how far he can count. Please see him. Please look at him.

When the school year starts and he’s in your care, will you please smile at him? Will you pat him on the back and tell him he’s doing okay? It’s okay to tell him he needs to behave, it’s okay to tell him he needs to do better, but please tell him that everyone makes mistakes sometimes--mistakes are how we learn--and you know he will do better the next day. Please help him pick himself up and try again.

Will you make sure he has fun? I’m not worried about the academics. I know they will come. I’m more concerned about what this year teaches him about school. Please make sure to teach him that school is a place where we take care of each other’s feelings, where it’s okay to try and fail, where it’s okay to make messes and mistakes, where it’s okay to play. Please let him play. It’s how he learns.

This is a big step for him and me. We are walking out into the world and you are his first brush with life outside of the safe place I’ve made for him. I will cry when I put his little hand in yours and walk away. I will be thinking about him the whole time he’s gone, but I hope you have him so engaged he doesn’t have a chance to think of me.

Take care of him.

He’s only been around for 5 years.