Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My First Day Of School

Do you remember your kindergarten teacher? I remember mine. And my first day of school, too. I’d been anticipating it for a whole year. My brother who was just 11 months older than me, and the one that I was extremely close to, had started kindergarten the year before and his absence had been felt. As long as he’d been around at home to hang out with, I didn’t mind so much; but once he’d joined that academic world, I wanted to join it, too.



September 1970 finally arrived and so did my first day of school! I practically raced my mother there. She kept calling to me to slow down. I didn’t. I had no issue with leaving home, or being separated from her, and no problem adjusting to a new environment. I was overjoyed! I remember that first glimpse of my teachers (there were two but I only really remember one). I thought they were beautiful and believed they knew everything. The one I remember was named Miss Brennan and she had long brown, silky hair. She was wearing a pretty mini dress (it was the 70s, after all) and those exceedingly popular Dr Scholl's exercise sandals that were all the rage back then.



I detached myself from my mother immediately and waved her away. I wanted to go inside the school and begin learning to read and write so I could enjoy stories in books and know everything...just like my teachers did. Miss Brennan spoke to all the children, asking our names, how we were and generally trying to get to know us. I was beaming when she looked my way and asked who I was. And even though I was terribly shy as I child, I didn’t feel that way with her. I told her my name, and also told her that I could spell it. “I even know my alphabet”, I said to her. She smiled and my heart skipped a beat. I had learned quite a few things from my older siblings and from gluing myself to those educational programs on the television, particularly Sesame Street, and I was eager to put it all to use.



Later that day, when the teachers wrote our names on construction paper, placed them on the floor and asked us to identify our own, I quickly scanned through them and pointed to the one that I knew was my own. My teacher complimented me on a job well done and I was overjoyed that I had been able to do this. This may not seem like much of an accomplishment from a 5-year-old in today’s standards, but back then it was. Children were left to be children when I was growing up. You played and enjoyed your childhood; there was no pressure to become a rocket scientist by the time you entered kindergarten, so it was perfectly normal to start school and not know your alphabet, or even how to spell your name.



Kindergarten was undemanding and a lot of fun, and I still remember certain things about that first year. We worked on arts and crafts many times and I constantly had something ready to give to my mother when she picked me up after school. Of course, like any other parent, she thought I was brilliant, the next Picasso, and praised me for everything that I created. My father never failed to applaud my achievements and to make it a point of expressing how proud he was of the wonderful work I was doing at school. He called me his “little teacher”.



That first year opened up a whole new wonderful world to me. Do you remember when you first started school?


13 comments:

  1. There was no kindergarten when I was small, so my first day of school was in Grade One, September 1963. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Like you, I could NOT WAIT to go to school -- how exciting it was! We each coloured a picture of a maple leaf that first day. Still one of the best and happiest days of my life!

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    1. That is such a cute story, Debra. That day made a big impact on you, so it's not surprising you still remember it.

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  2. I had started to read and write when I was 3. So on this basis the Principle, a very strict nun allowed me to join in the junior classes very early on. I was thrilled because I just wanted to learn and spend time with tons of books. Where I lived, we started primary school as 4 yr olds. I remember there were lots of games and I couldn't wait to get into my proper school uniform which was a very smart navy blue pinafore with a blazer and beret.I remember telling my first teacher that I loved her! Those were the days, happy times.

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    1. Wow, Kitten, at 3? That is pretty amazing. Those were definitely happy times. So young and innocent. I loved my teachers, too.

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  3. I distinctly remember being excited about the child-sized kitchen I'd seen when we went to the school to sign me up for kindergarten - I'd been eagerly anticipating playing with it for months. I don't recall any separation anxiety myself - we were very independant kids and played away from home for hours on end, only coming home for meals because we were expected to, lol!! I loved nap time (we had towel sausage rolls for pillows), the lights were dimmed and we laid down on the floor - after we had our chocolate milk, which was rolled in on small wagons. All good memories :)

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    1. Oh, yes! Those cute toys that we looked forward to. I was eager to get to them, too. I already had two brothers in school and I envied all the cool things they were using, and all the things they were learning and doing. I had the same type of childhood as you, and great memories to look back on.

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  4. ha ha! I loved reading everyone's memories. I ADORED my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Brooks, and I remember how we all lined up to kiss her goodbye each day. I made one mistake that year and I was totally shocked by it. In my workbook I had circled the picture of a caboose with the wrong number of windows! Funny to this day I still couldn't tell you how many windows are on a caboose.

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    1. That is such a funny story, Francie. You must have been traumatized by it to remember it so well. We were so eager to please our teachers back then that making mistakes that we knew answers to would really upset us. Mrs. Brooks sounds like she was a wonderful teacher since you all seem to have adored her so much.

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  5. I don't normally remember clothes, but I still remember the red plaid dress that I wore on my first day of school and that when I went to school that morning I did not even know my alphabet but when I came home I could read. That is the one and only time my mother ever bragged about me!

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    1. Such a cute story, Kay. You probably looked adorable in the red plaid dress. How nice that your mother bragged about you, even if it was the one and only time. Kids need that sometimes.

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  6. Martha, what an amazing account of your childhood. I, like you, also LOVED my first day of school. I still remember it too. My kindergarten teacher was so loved, that as my baby teeth started to come loose, i would go to her to pull them for me ;-) I remember the smell of new school supplies, the days we used the school pool, the games with the kids and how I loved to come up with stories about the place being hunted, just to see wide-eyed kids listen in fascination.
    My mom told me many years later, she stayed at the school the whole day and would pick in to see if I was crying. She was happy, but also a bit sad that I didn't even shed one single tear.

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    1. What a lovely story! It was a bittersweet moment for your mom. She was proud of you, but also realizing that you were growing up. That tugs at the heartstrings of a parent. Your teacher sounds lovely. I can imagine how much you adored her since you trusted her enough to pull out your baby teeth!

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  7. Wonderful stories, everyone! I really enjoyed them. Thank you for sharing them :)

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