Kindergarten culture shock – #atozchallenge

Kindergarten culture shock. Eleventh of twenty-six posts in the April 2017 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Whispering Chimneys: My Altamont childhood” — where my genealogy journey began. Wish me luck!

Up until Kindergarten, I lived on our farm Whispering Chimneys with my parents, maternal grandparents and my brother Mark — who wasn’t born until I was four. So I was used to quiet times in a rural setting surrounded by grownups.

Sure, kids came over for birthday parties and such — and I could yell across the two-lane highway to my neighbors Kathy and Carol Ann when I went down to get the mail.

But these were mere episodes in my otherwise tranquil country life. Even my weekly dance class with the daughters of some of my parents’ friends was a small gathering that only lasted about an hour.

The Kindergarten crowd. That’s me standing tall in the middle of the third row, sixth from left, at Altamont Elementary. Once I got used to it I loved school. That’s my teacher Mrs. Cudney at the left. Scan: Molly Charboneau

Room full of kids

None of this prepared me for Kindergarten culture shock. Gone were the contemplative times of amusing myself with whatever came to hand on the farm — replaced by a room chock full of boisterous children and a half-day schedule of activities.

Altamont Elementary provided my parents with a Happy Days in Kindergarten handout, which I still have, outlining the goals for us youngsters. It featured a more structured itinerary than I was used to.

  • Arrival – Remove wraps, play at tables.
  • Group Meeting – Roll call, prayer, flag salute, visiting time.
  • Group Activity & Unit Work – Building with blocks, easel & finger painting, clay modeling, drawing, doll corner, imaginative play, puzzles, etc.
  • Clean Up
  • Quiet Time – Records, poems, finger plays
  • Story Time
  • Music Time – songs, rhythms, rhythm band
  • Active games – Outdoors when possible
  • Unit Work – Animals, farm, zoo; seasons & holidays; store, post office.
  • Manuscript Writing – If the child shows readiness to learn handwriting.
  • Life skills – Safety habits (like safe street crossing); Health habits (like washing hands before meals); Attendance (showing up for school).

Yikes! And all of this crammed into a two-hour session — either 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. — though I can’t remember which one I was in.

My ticket to ride. My school bus tag from the first day of Kindergarten — and my first solo trip off the farm. Scan: Molly Charboneau

On my own

To top it all off, I’d be heading there on my own because the booklet said, “We encourage Kindergarteners to come to school alone even on the first day, as self reliance and independence are qualities we hope each pupil will develop.”

So my mom pinned a little school bus tag on me, and off I went each day for the round trip commute to school. And after a while a funny thing happened — I got to like it!

The feel of the finger paints gliding across slippery paper, the story time books Mrs. Cudney read aloud, the clamor of the noisy rhythm band — and even my mob of classmates — became a part of my new life away from the farm.

Sure enough — just like the booklet said — Kindergarten was my first step toward independence.

Up next –  Liz: My modern grandmother.  Please stop back!

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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16 thoughts on “Kindergarten culture shock – #atozchallenge”

  1. That is a lot to do in two hours! I remember being really excited for kindergarten. But once it started, I changed my mind and wanted to stay home. 😉

  2. My Mom was a kindergarten teacher at St. Mary’s grade school in Govans, Baltimore, Maryland. At the dinner table, she would spin the tales of each day’s adventure with her group of 5 year olds. The kids at play were hilariously mimicking their parents. It was our version of ” kids say the darnedest things”…If you remember Art Linkleiter. We would laugh until we cried.

    1. I’m sure my teacher Mrs. Cudney told similar tales when she got home! Thanks for this delightful story about your mom.

  3. Sure is amazing how much kindergarten has changed! One change I’m sad to see is how few kids are given the responsibility to get themselves to school–even in high school these days! I did a lot of walking–to school or to bus stops–when I was little. And I let my boys walk home alone from a pretty early age. I always walked them TO school because that was the moms’ social time 🙂

    1. I know what you mean. One of my former classmates says that we are much more independent as women because we went everywhere by ourselves as kids — to school, walking to one another’s houses and later on our bikes. I share your sadness that safety concerns have made this a thing of the past.

  4. It’s funny how daunting things can seem at first, then you get used to them (and even enjoy them). I’m glad you enjoyed Kindergarten, it sounds like it was great fun in the end.

    Cait @ Click’s Clan

    1. It’s fun revisiting that time and exploring how those early learning experiences and daily solo bus trip demarcated home, family and the outside world.

    1. How wonderful to have that painting! I have my construction paper stop sign. Amazing how those first introductions to art stay with us over the decades.

  5. First days of formal schooling…they sure make up a great stuff to visit and revisit!
    How I wish I could also have few artifacts from those early days!

    A cute read, I must say!
    Anagha From Team MocktailMommies
    Collage Of Life

    1. Thankfully, my mother kept a “baby box” for each of us children, into which she put items from our early years. I am grateful she did, because they are wonderful memory prompts.

  6. I never went to Kindergarten, but I wonder if some of my kids went through that culture shock. The Kindergarten today is so different! Full-day of actual math, reading, and writing. I think they have a rest time in the middle of the day, and I know they still have art, playtime, and recess. But wow, I wish it were still like that handout.

    1. Good observations, Courtney. One of the pitfalls of A to Z is writing so quickly and missing inconsistencies. Edits made. Thanks for the valuable feedback!

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