Kindergarten Orientation is always a nostalgic time for me as I remember the feeling of sending my first child to Kindergarten, and then my second, and on to my fifth. Now I have grandchildren who have crossed this milestone. Time marches on.
Tonight I tried to present a message to our new Kindergarten parents that we are partners in their children’s literacy development. I encouraged conversation, playing with names and letters, noticing print in the environment, playing outside, providing experiences that later become stories, reading aloud, going to the library, and drawing pictures. So many things were in my heart and mind. They all feel urgent. But mostly, I wanted to say how reading and writing are the hope of the future. It was hard to find the right words. Was my message strong and kind enough that some will consider doing just a little more of these things?
I looked around the room and saw many very young parents, older parents, maybe some grandparents, and siblings of new Kindergarteners. I saw toddlers with Legos, toddlers snuggling with mom or dad, and toddlers who needed to be walking/running around. I saw parents on phones, parents who looked tired and stressed, parents who looked concerned. What might I have said to offer comfort that school can still be a place to feel cared for, encouraged, and challenged? My message wasn’t front page news, but sometimes I wish it could be. Literacy is urgent. So much depends on what happens before children are 8, or 10, or 12.
I feel my own concern. It sounds cliche to say, “I want to make a difference.” But at the end of the day, that IS really what I want.