Okay, real quick everybody, what’s the golden rule? No cheating, looking it up online and what not, what is it? Do you remember?
It takes a minute, but it’s “Treat everyone the way you would want to be treated.” I think that sounds about right.
I’m talking about rules today, because honestly that’s about all we do the first week of school. Rules for the playground, rules for the classroom, rules for the library, rules for the bathroom, rules for the hallway, rules, rules, rules. It’s enough to drive a person crazy. Don’t get me wrong, they are very important! They will help keep the children safe (always a priority) and will keep the year running smoothly. It’s just a lot of listening for these little people, and sometimes they get antsy. (As one boy said to another the other day, “I don’t think we’ll be using our brains today.)
Many of these rules that we learn at the beginning of school are ones that the kids will hopefully carry with them throughout their school careers, and their own lives. They are the basic ones: 1. Don’t hurt anyone on the inside or outside. (This covers almost everything.) 2. Follow the playground rules. 3. Listen to the teacher. 4. Use good manners. These are the rules we all try to end up with, but what we start out with is something else entirely.
To begin the rule making process, teachers try to find out if the kids know why we have rules at all! This is always an enlightening experience for any teacher, but in kindergarten, it is just plain fun. Here are some of the responses I received when I posed the question, “Why do we have rules?”
-cause people might tackle you if we didn’t have rules.
-so we won’t get hurt all the time, like when my brother hurts me every day.
-cause people just do bad stuff.
-if we didn’t have rules and people were running around school they would miss the bus and then they would be stuck here all night! (this particular reason was followed by a chanting of “Stay all night! Stay all night! Stay all night! I had a bit of a headache after that.)
After coming up with an extensive list of why we have rules (which I knew they couldn’t read anyway, but teachers like to write on the board.) we decided to brainstorm good rules. We thought about what rules would make our classroom a safe and happy place. This is what they suggested:
-Do not put paper towels in the toilet. They don’t flush.
-Don’t throw things at people.
-Don’t draw on yourself with permanent marker.
-Don’t use potty words.
-Do not show people your privates.
-Do not squeeze guinea pigs until their guts come out.
-Flush the toilet.
-No biting your friends.
-Do not walk up the slide.
-Always use a tissue. (okay, I added that one.)
After an exhausting and extensive discussion, we decided that the original 4 rules that I suggested pretty much covered all the other rules. As I think about these rules, and all the things the children will learn this year, I am reminded that yes, all they really need to know they learn in Kindergarten. (okay, Mr. Fulghum, you beat me to the punch, but we were all thinking this long before you became a gazillionaire writing about it….) Yes, gazillion is a word. I feel I really must go over these one time. It’s a nice reminder that even adults need to remember the rules: share everying; play fair; don’t hit people; put things back where you found them; clean up your own mess; don’t take things that aren’t yours; say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody; wash your hands before you eat; warm cookies and cold milk are good for you; live a balanced life - learn some, think some, draw and paint and sing and dance and play; take a nap; watch out for traffic and hold hands; be aware of wonder; Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that; goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup- they all die. So do we. Remember the Dick and Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all - LOOK.
So, I’d like to end our little rule session with a shout out to the mother of a little fella in my classroom. He’s the one that told his mom that his new Kindergarten teacher was “hot!” That Teacher’s Pet t-shirt I ordered is on its way! (Oh, and the nurse will be in the check his eyes - although I’m sure they’re fine!)
(Yeah, it's one of my first columns....but why re-invent the wheel? WHY? Plus, I am in my classroom 24/7 right now. TWENTY FOUR SEVEN. And I am excited beyond belief. Stay tuned....)