Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My First Day of Kindergarten, Part I

I have never attended kindergarten. Before now. It is one of those things that a home-schooled child misses out on, and it is not always easy to relate to others who have had the experience. My kindergarten was phonics in the living room and writing at the dinner table. I was surrounded only by my family, and all my education consisted of was, well, education. No extra-curricular activities with hundreds of children I didn’t know, no ‘socialization’, per say. But I had a wonderful childhood, learned very quickly and excelled in academics.

However, now that I am seventeen years old and about to graduate from highs school, I find myself wondering what a kindergarten class is really like. I have heard snippets of conversation, seen glimpses on television and in the newspaper, read books about people who had experienced it, but I have never actually been to a kindergarten class, or any public school class, in fact.

I am beginning to think about career choices, and the idea of being a teacher has occurred to me. Before I begin taking my first developmental psychology class, however, I decide that I need to have at least an inkling of an idea of what a teacher, in any grade, does on a day to day basis.

I have my mom contact a long-time friend, Laura Taldo, who teaches kindergarten at the local public school, to ask if I can be her shadow for a day. Laura is more than happy, and the date is set for the next Tuesday. I start getting goose bumps. Imagine--school buses, backpacks, desks, wooden pointers, cafeteria food! This is going to be an incredibly unique experience, and I hope that I’m up for it.    

My first day of school actually begins on Monday--getting to bed early. Apparently, in order to arrive at the school bright and chipper at 7:30 A.M., a teacher must get to bed before midnight. My schedule is usually the exact opposite: in order to clean late into the night a cleaner must sleep late in the morning. I put in my earplugs and try to ignore the cracks of light seeping around my door. This going to bed early thing could take some getting used to.

It is worth it though, because when I pop out of bed at 6:15 the next morning I feel pumped and ready to go. it is exhilarating to wake up before the world, and I take in the cold, silver landscape with bated breath. Who knows what this day will bring? Slipping into some comfortable corduroys and a cute green sweater, I try to neatly braid my hair and then rush upstairs for a hot mug of strong black coffee. Mom is still in her bathrobe but as I go to the computer to update my blog she goes into her room to get ready. it is still 6:40, we have plenty of time.

After quick breakfasts and a last-minute goodbye to Dad, we’re out the door by 7:30, right on schedule. As we drive down the highway I can see little clusters of children migrating out to the roadside to wait for the bus. it is rather eerie, all of them coming out at the exact same time, like some invisible force is dragging them away from their homes. The sun is peeking over the horizon now, but the roads are still quiet, the busy morning traffic is yet to come.

After a little difficulty we arrive at a huge brick building emblazoned with the words Glenn Harrell Elementary. Dozens of kids with backpacks are swarming through the doors, cars and coming and going, dropping off their precious cargo. I never had the experience of leaving my family every day to join my comrades in a big brick school, it must be a little traumatic for the little ones.

We find our way to the front desk where I put on a bright orange volunteer badge and Mom and I walk down the long tiled hallways to Laura’s classroom. The walls are all brown and taupe, covered with cute little craft projects, rows and rows of colorful name plates over hooks on the wall, and middle-aged women clicking their heels from room to room. Mom and I discuss the novelty of the place in low undertones. There really is no other place quite like an elementary school; it has an atmosphere of its own, predominantly characterized by hundreds of Hannah Montana and Spiderman backpacks lined up on the walls.

Tune in tomorrow for another exciting installment!
Abby Rogers

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