Thursday, August 23, 2012

Everything I Ever Learned, I Learned in Kindergarten



Setting a good example for children has been a core theme of this column for over four years. How nice to be able to switch the roles and allow our children to take the lead occasionally. They do this by reminding us how pure, good and simple life can be when viewed through innocent eyes.

My friend Dave Veale described some experiences he had when reminiscing about his son’s first year in school. I think this bears sharing. He outlined five basic lessons he recalled from his own life experiences when he was just a lad.

Learning can be fun. Although this seems to be most efficiently accomplished when we are young sponges, learning accompanies us throughout our lives. The nice thing about learning when we are older is the choice of what we study is often our own. Nonetheless, we need to have compassion for ourselves, as it does take longer for certain kinds of information to sink in. Learning in a positive environment makes the process much more fun!

Community is important. Making friends and helping one another learn various skills in a collaborative way lays a good foundation for the future of our sustainability as a society. The simple skills of making introductions, shaking hands, saying please and thank you, and sharing are all important as we grow and find our way independently in social and business arenas.

Remember to play on a daily basis. Life is all about balance. We know we can’t play all the time, but the more balance we can introduce and maintain in our lives, the happier we will be, the better our relationships will be, and the more energy we will have. If only we could work, play, and nap the way we did in kindergarten! Why not?

Seek out positive teachers and mentors. When we are young, there are those who influence us in positive and negative ways. We have little idea of who will leave the  most lasting impressions. We certainly do remember those who taught us good things and as a result hone our abilities to find others like them as we move along our path. It is also worth remembering as we grow, we too become mentors and teachers to all whom we meet, especially our children.

It’s okay to be scared of new unknown experiences, but don’t let fear get the better of you. We are born with a flight or fight instinct. To be cautious of the unknown is only natural. Through time, we begin to discern safe situations from dangerous ones. We are also born with a need to connect with other people. So great is this need to be connected that our judgment of what is safe and what is not can become clouded if faced with the possibility of abandonment or being alone.

Growing up can be fraught with bumps in the road, the full range of emotions, which are all new to us, and the usual learning about boundaries and the effect we have on other people. We are in fact introduced to most of these experiences in kindergarten. A supportive home environment allows parents to have conversations about the many confusing situations children encounter as they grow into adolescence. But we need this support system throughout our lives. We will continue to develop as we age and experience the many wonders life has in store for us.

Just as in school where we learn who we prefer to spend out time with, so too in the world outside of school can we make these choices. Looking back on the many “first times” we did things in our lives, we are often transported back to our childhood experiences and remember the best of times along with the worst of times. This is how we gain our sense of self. Developing self-esteem and self-respect is the quickest way to learn the value in respecting other people and all living creatures.

Take a few moments to reflect on your experience as a child during the early school years and be amazed at how much you really do recall from those exciting days when learning was what we did. On balance, we still learn things in much the same way. Hopefully we will never stop!