Monday, August 24, 2009

Brianna Starts School

August 23, 2009

On the eve of our return to school, I am reminiscent of when my little darlings were first starting out on their educational careers. Brianna's first week of kindergarten pretty much set the stage for all subsequent years.

Brianna was beyond excited to start school when she was five. She loved what she called 'learning books'--workbooks and coloring books that helped her learn her numbers and ABCs and colors and such. She'd spend hours engrossed in them, so when it was time for her to head off to kindergarten, she was thrilled that she'd get to do 'big girl' learning books. She couldn't wait to get to all of the amazing things she imagined she'd get to learn about once she started school.

Her teacher was Mrs. Flynn, who was young, enthusiastic, and lovely. I dropped Bree off on her first morning, and she was there at the door with a warm smile and open arms. I, of course, cried, because my little baby was growing up. Bree, however, wise for her age, smiled at me lovingly, gave me a hug, and sent me on my merry way. She nearly danced into the classroom, ready for her great adventure.

I couldn't wait until school was over that first day and I could hear about everything she did. (She was my first, remember, so the kindergarten experience was as new to me as it was to her.) She ran out to the car and hopped in, ready to tell me everything about the day. She told me how pretty and nice her teacher was, and how many new friends she had met, and what everyone ate for lunch. She told me who played with whom at recess, and how many field trips they'd be going on during the year. She was a wealth of information.

When she had finished telling me everything she had to say about her day, I asked her, "So what did you LEARN about today?" Her answer: nothing. "What do you mean, nothing?" I asked her. "You didn't learn anything at all today?"

"Well," she said, "our teacher asked us to tell her what color things were. That's not really learning, though, because I already know all my colors." I explained to her that not everyone in her class all knew the same things, so her teacher had to find out what everyone already knew, including colors. She said she understood, and was excited to see what the next day held for her.

The next afternoon when I picked her up, we had a repeat. She gave me the complete run-down of all the social aspects of the day once again--which kids played with the same kids as yesterday, which kids made new friends, which ones seemed shy and which ones seemed most friendly. (She's still a keen social observer, that one. It's one of the traits that allows her to move so freely among her diverse group of friends, and that encourages her to reach out to new or shy kids and draw them into her group. She's a friend to everyone, and I love that about her.) After I got the social report, I asked her again what she learned that day, and again she said, "Nothing."

"Really?" I asked her. "You didn't learn anything again today?" She told me the teacher just wanted everyone to count to twenty for her, and she didn't consider that learning since she already knew how to count to 119. (Oddly, 120 was the elusive number that impeded her progress toward her goal of 150.) I reminded her that Mrs. Flynn was just trying to find out what everyone already knew, so she would know what she still needed to teach them. "I know," she said, contentedly. She wasn't deterred by the slow start.

On the third day, she came running to the car, excited to tell me everything that had gone on in the kindergarten world. Before she was even finished with the run-down, I interrupted her to ask what she had learned today. The expression on her face changed. She looked a little sad for me, for my naivete. I think she felt she needed to set me straight--you know, so I wouldn't continue to get my hopes up about what she'd be learning at school. Clearly school was so much more about the who than the what. She leaned forward, quite conspiratorially, and whispered, "Mommy, actually, you don't learn anything in school. All we do is color and play games."


  1. That's excellent. What a treat she is! And so nice to hear that her social skills are certainly special for someone her age.

    Best to her in the year to come!

  2. I love that. It should always be that way!