Advent 2013: Lessons from First Graders


Loretta's first grade teacher, Ms. Brown, has too many good qualities to list. One of them is her great communication with parents. In her monthly letter for December, she listed the 20 areas the class is focusing on. I wish I could post them in lunchrooms, board rooms, and family dinner tables all over the world. Some of my favorites:

  1. We take pride in doing our best at all times.
  2. We are becoming skilled at waiting our turn and not interrupting.
  3. Because of our buddy class, we are learning to have friendships with older students.
  4. We understand the power of the words "Please," "Thank you," and "I'm Sorry."
  5. When we see a friend in need, we are quick to give help.
  6. We know the importance of staying on task and completing a job.
  7. We are enjoying playing with old friends and making new ones.
  8. We have learned that singing makes us happy and builds community.
  9. We are now skilled at making "I statements" when our feelings are hurt.
  10. We know the meaning of the word "stamina" and practice it in our academics.
  11. We look at people's faces to see how they are feeling.
  12. We know the importance of doing our own work so others can do theirs.
  13. We are careful to use kind and respectful words toward one another.
  14. We are now skilled at using encouraging words towards others and ourselves.

Go ahead. Print it out and stick it on your mirror. I'm going to.

Number Four--saying "I'm sorry," is something these 6 year-olds could teach most of us. I love how Loretta and her classmates don't have any finesse or art about it. They just say, in the words of their kindergarten training, "You dumped my bucket." Then they have it out and play with each other again next recess.

Our memories are longer, our interchanges are more nuanced, and certainly I don't have time for people who dump my bucket constantly. But in 2014, one of my goals is to bounce back more quickly--to take myself less seriously, notice the assumptions that keep me from playing well with others, and get out there and play 4-square anyway.