Lessons from the Early Years

Remember this…

Capture kindergarten2This poem Robert Fulghum by  is posted in our board office.  It reads

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

    And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Having looked at this poem again through the lens of LEARNING and our work around the Conditions for Learning, I am even more certain that the Early Years are leading the way in teaching us about how deep learning occurs.  For the next several weeks, let’s spotlight, analyze and engage in some discourse around some of the key concepts in the Early Years work, what they mean, and how they actually apply to ALL learning!

1. Our Image of the Child…as capable, competent, curious and capable of complex thought (Mindset).

2. Purposeful Play and Inquiry as a form of Play (Collaboration, Responsive Instruction) and Authentically Wondering  (Risk Taking, Responsive Instruction) from K-3…and beyond!!!

3.  Self-Regulation (Collaboration)

4.  Growth Mindset

5.  Pedagogical Documentation (Responsive Instruction)

6.  Learning About Communication, Reading,Writing and Oral Language…and  Learning to Communicate through Reading, Writing, Oral Language  (Responsive Instruction)

7. Positive School Climate and Sense of Belonging (Relationships, Risk Taking, Collaboration, Responsive Instruction)

8.  The Importance of Transitions and Partnerships (Relationships)

9.  Parental Engagement (Relationships, Collaboration)

 All I Really Need to Know About Learning, I Learned in the Early Years…

What are you learning about learning by visiting your Kindergarten classrooms?  And how are you seeing this beyond the Kindergarten classrooms?

Until next week…


3 responses

  1. I have always believed the poem and have advocated for putting our best teachers in the kindergarten classroom. When our school had a larger enrollment I was able to put Erica in this learning environment and she achieved incredible results with the students, and I still hear about those years from parents from time to time. I was just transitioning one of her former students into high school and her name came up as the teacher who taught their son how to self regulate converse and self-advocate. I am a kindergarten teacher and learn and am inspired by my students every day. They are energetic little sponges who watch everything I do and say and learn from everyone and everything around them. It certainly isn’t an easy job. I am in the school every weekend planning for the week, changing activities in the room based on the students interest. Looking for and making materials that are engaging,reflecting on their previous weeks learning and building on their successes and finding resources for students who didn’t get it the first time. My biggest struggle is always with the self-regulation piece, and after reading the article Nikki sent out on Classroom Management have highlighted some activities and artifacts that I can add to our classroom for the students to get a better picture of who I am outside of the classroom. This year I will again assign a Marvelous Me project during Family Day for the students to create with their parents. I display these in the classroom with my own so that we can all see and get a sense of all of the different family dynamics in our classroom. I have been thinking about how the other two classrooms in my school are run in comparison to mine. I would like to see more play in the primary classroom across the hall, but it’s a 2-3-4 and the teacher is caught up in meeting all of the expectations in the curriculum. It’s hard to let that go when you are teaching a triple grade and juggling all that that entails. I see far too much pen and paper work and not enough of hands on learning. The teachers are working but its top down teaching, activities that the teachers have planned on their own that aren’t engaging enough for the students. So thank you again Nikki, you have given me a spring board for my next staff meeting.


  2. Thank you so much for this post Angela. I am curious to hear more about moving inquiry based learning (a form of play based learning – which is how most people really learn deeply) into the older grades. The conversation about the curriculum is a key piece – curriculum mapping, essential questions, differentiation and multiple entry points are all part of this conversation (and so much more as you know!)


  3. From what I heard from the ADM Jim Grieves last week i think we can expect to hear a lot more about inquiry based learning throughout the primary grades.


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