I should have attended kindergarten 63 years ago, but I couldn’t. My family only had one car, and my father needed it for work. The school was too far away for me to walk, so I didn’t go.
In the fall of 2005, one of my grandsons started all-day kindergarten. When his school asked for volunteers, I quickly answered the call.
There were only 13 students in his class. His teacher had been teaching for more than 30 years, and she had even taught the parents of some of her students.
I told her right from the start that I couldn’t commit to a specific schedule, and she told me to come whenever I was able. I tried to go every two weeks, usually in the afternoon so I could go to class after having lunch with my grandson. The children started calling me Grandma right away.
The teacher sometimes had specific tasks she wanted me to do, but most of the time I could do whatever I wanted with the children.
Several stations were set up as areas for learning. One station could be for building blocks, another for learning to rhyme words.
Snack time was always popular with the children. Every time I went to help, I took doughnut holes.
I love children, and I’m happiest when I’m around them. I always looked forward to being with the kindergartners, and I felt happy and energized afterward. They gave me a lot of smiles and hugs, and when I heard them laugh, I laughed. They thought I was there to help them, but they taught me so much.
Several years ago, Robert Fulghum wrote a best-seller called All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I learned most of the things he points out in his book on my own. I think the two most important points he made are to live a balanced life and to be aware of wonder.
Fortunately, I’m at that stage in life where I can play more than I have to work. My little friends were like that, too. They had so much to learn, and they weren’t afraid of failing. I need to keep some of that wonder so I don’t feel like I’m getting old.
I was proud of the children in that class. When they first entered kindergarten, they barely knew anything, but by the end of the year, they could read and write.
I was invited to the class pizza party at the end of the school year, and I got pretty teary-eyed. As a graduation present, I gave each of the students a gold dollar.
A year later, one of my kindergarten girls saw me when I was having lunch with my grandson. She told me she kept her gold dollar in her mother’s jewelry box so it wouldn’t get lost.
The kindergarten teacher I helped gave me a graduation certificate in gratitude for my volunteer hours. My education is now complete.