Kindergarten Ain’t What It Used To Be

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of May 1, 2017

Kindergarten — I still remember my kindergarten years. Mrs. Lewis was my teacher, and kindergarten in those days was half days. You either were assigned to morning or afternoon kindergarten.

Since I was only 5 at the time, I don’t remember what we had to know before we started that phase of our school life. I probably knew my colors and could count to maybe 100 or not. I don’t remember, but if I did know those things it was because of my mother, being a former teacher, took the time to teach me the basics. But it wasn’t close to anything those entering kindergartens have to know today.

A friend of mine who works in an area school recently showed me the list of desirable skills the kindergarten students of next year need to know before entering kindergarten. She attended school somewhere around the time I did, maybe a few years later, and was astounded at what needed to happen before these tiny little people could enter school.

I would assume today’s young parents know what D’Nealian handwriting is, because a child needs to know how to print their name in D’Nealian handwriting. I had to look it up. D’Nealian is a style of writing and teaching cursive, print and block handwriting, derived from the Palmer Method. How many of you know what the Palmer Method is?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not protesting all of the skills a child needs. Some on the list were: Recognize difference between upper and lowercase letters, shows an interest in learning, can attend to one activity for 10 to 15 minutes independently, has a working understanding of basic vocabulary words, can draw simple figures, can color within a given space, can grip a pencil correctly, stays in own space, can get along with a group, able to express a thought in words, and there are more stipulations. It is quite a list.

I know I did not know all of those things before I went to school. I have a feeling our list was quite short. The one thing I do remember is the rug we had to bring for our naps. Kindergarten was fun. When we first got there it was play time. Then we settled down and had a story. Some days we had show and tell. We did have teaching time but it wasn’t too long. Then we had a snack and a nap. It was a time of learning how to get along with others and learning basics to get us ready for first grade. And it was only three hours. I would say in my day and age the most basic function it served was for us to learn how to interact with each other.

There was no preschool in my day. We were kids. We played outside and played with friends or kids in the neighborhood. Our day was not scheduled with learning. We did learn while playing. We played house. We played cops and robbers. We played school. We had fun with no stress.

I wonder at the importance of coloring within a given space. To me, that says color inside the lines. Coloring inside the lines caused me great stress because I am not a color-inside-the-lines person. Why is it important to learn to color inside the lines in kindergarten? They should be exploring their child creativity, and it shouldn’t be wrong at that age to forget about the lines.

I don’t know if I still know how to hold a pencil correctly. As a parent, would I know how to teach my child to correctly hold a pencil, or would I have to ask someone for help? They probably taught me that in kindergarten, but in the scheme of life it wasn’t important enough to retain that knowledge.

A pre-requisite for attending kindergarten seems to be preschool or early childhood education. Because we didn’t have that in my day, did it hamper our learning experiences in elementary, grade school, high school and college? Were we dumbed down because we didn’t have this advance learning experience?

In spite of all the advances in education, we here in the United States seem to be lagging other countries when it comes to education. According to Pew Research, the United State ranks in the middle of the pack in education, behind many other industrialized nations.

There is a push going on in the Legislature to provide vouchers so children can go to private schools and attend more early childhood education programs so no child is left out. It doesn’t seem to be working to send our kids to school earlier and earlier. Will it work to provide vouchers to families to send more kids to early childhood education or preschool or to make private schools available to those with poor economic status?

I don’t know the answer, but in the rankings, the nations that rank the highest have public education. They pour government money into the public schools to educate all. The schools aren’t funded according to neighborhoods or school districts. They have quality schools and education for all. Perhaps, instead of lowering the age and qualification of what children need to know, or providing vouchers that still might discriminate because of parental choice on seeking them out, it might be better to funnel that money into our public education system and treat all schools equally, no matter where they sit in a geographical area. Perhaps we should put our money toward paying quality teachers who have the future of our children in their hands.

That is just my opinion based on an old person’s view of what could be important for our children. But what do I know? I am not sure how to hold a pencil, and I color outside of the lines and I didn’t know what D’nealian is. It must be because I only had kindergarten three hours a day and then I took naps.

My Antique Friends

My latest column from the Albert Lea Tribune. Feel free to share or reblog.

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Mary, Karen and I

Best Friends Forever Mary, Karen and I – I miss you Karen but I know you are with us in spirit still today.

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr once said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

I find that to be true in different venues in life, especially with old friends.

We make friends in our childhood, in our teenage years, in our adult years, throughout middle age and even during our sunset years. Our interaction with even our best friends from early in our life changes as we go through life. We grow up, move, are busy raising children or go on to jobs that take us in different directions. We stay friends and settle for those moments of Christmas cards and chance meetings to connect. Perhaps our personalities changed because of experiences which impacted our friendships.

There are those friends whom we don’t see for years, but we take up where we left off immediately upon meeting them again — the years falling away. And then there are new friends who are really old acquaintances, with which we connect with in our later years, who become good friends.

At this time in my life I feel I am coming back to some of my beginnings. I have reconnected with best friends from grade school and high school. It is easier to stay in each other’s lives because of technology.

My husband and I play trivia on Tuesday night. I have mentioned that before, but what I didn’t mention was our reconnecting with old friends who were an important part of our early lives. I call it karma that life has taken us around in this circle.

Enter my friend from Wisconsin who called and suggested dinner. We met for the first time in years. She pushed me many years ago into my first date with the man that became my husband. At dinner that night she persuaded me to join her playing trivia at our local Legion. I must admit I was scared. I am not the person who remembers history, etc. I was surprised when I felt right at home with the team we joined.

One man was the usher in our wedding. Well … let’s put it this way, he was supposed to be the usher in our wedding. It’s a long story. Another player was my neighbor from my childhood. We spent many nights playing kick the can and spying on our neighbors to see what was going on in their garage. Should I mention bank robber? We had wild imaginations.

One of our quick trivia minds is a friend from our bartending years. We were bartenders together. I loved that job and the people I worked with, especially this person. Further down the table is a woman I shared my high school years with. We weren’t good friends in high school but now we are coming together in a new, fun adult friendship.

The nice thing about a new friendship with an old friend is we do share memories of a time in our life that was special to us.

There are other friends in our trivia group. Some we have had contact with during the latter years and others are brand new friends. But I feel we have come full circle and have come home to a time where we enjoyed life and enjoyed those friendships with people from our past.

One of the things I marvel at the most is that I can be stupid with these friends when it comes to trivia, and I am not made to feel that stupidity. Wouldn’t it be great if we offered that freedom every day to those we spend our lives with?

Our group is a mishmash of intellect. We have farmers, a nurse, a counselor, a couple of office managers, an author, a service manager, a dental tech, plus others and also those who drop in to join us from time to time. It is always a surprise to see what former members come back and offer us their wisdom.

We have all changed over the years. Our lives took us in opposite directions. We all experienced good times and bad times that shaped who we are over the years. The more things changed (us), the more they stayed the same (friendship).

Our bodies may change, our circumstances may spin out of control, but the caring you feel for someone who was important in your life stays there forever, waiting to be rekindled at the right time in your life.

Here is a little trivia for you today. Who said, “Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends?”

I can identify with being an antique, because a ruler that had my dad’s shoe store logo on it that I used in third grade — autographed with my name — was found in an antique store in Iowa.

I am officially an antique and I am enjoying my time with other antiques.

Happy Memories Grade School Class from St. Casimir’s

Definition of an antique: “A collectible having a high value because of considerable age.”

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.

Missing Those Saints

This column ran in the Courier Sentinel this week but the last few paragraphs were left off. This is the entire column.

I have written the column Something About Nothing since 2005. It appears every Monday in the
Albert Lea Tribune and every other week in the Courier Sentinel. Usually it is the same column
in both papers.  

I have decided I want to branch out with another column called Sprinkled Notes. It matches my
blog of the same name. On my blog the blurb says it is about a little bit of “this n’ that.” It makes  sense to link the two together. So please bear with me. My new column is going to make its  debut in this paper and will be a different topic than published on Something About Nothing.  

Sprinkled Notes

Missing Those Saints

We have a term in our church called Senior Saints. I suppose I could call myself a member of
the Senior Saints now that I have reached that age. By that age I mean the age at which one  considers someone a Senior Citizen which seems to vary from person to person and store to store. However, I am far from being a Saint.  

The reason the Senior Saints are on my mind is a member of our church died this weekend. Her
name was Grace, and in my mind she was a Saint long before she became a Senior.

Others from our congregation have gone before her and some of their names will live in my heart and mind forever too. Names such as Gerald, Lorraine, Emily, Wilbert and Donny, to name a few. These people made a difference in my life. None of them would have called  themselves saints. They went through their life touching people. None of them achieved what  the world would call greatness. They weren’t lauded across the nation or broadcast on Social  Media, but they made a steady difference in the life of the people they met every day, and the  life of their church and especially their families. The one thing they had in common was their love of God and they showed it in the way they lived. It wasn’t loud but quiet and gentle. Well,  occasionally it was loud when a couple of them were telling one of their famous jokes.  

I remember when I was new to the Lutheran Congregation and I attended Bible Studies led by
Lorraine, Emily and Grace. I learned more about God and the Bible, but most of all I learned  about kindness and love for others. I saw their dedication to their church in all they did quietly  such as Altar Guild, Women’s groups, Choir, Ushering, Church Council and of course teaching  others about the word.  

I met Gerald when I became the head of our Sunday School and he was one of our teachers.
He taught I think for over twenty years or more. He, with his wit and humor made a difference in the lives of young members in his teaching, and in his leadership of youth groups, taking them  out into nature in the Boundary Waters to teach them about the beauty of creation.  

I met Wilburt when he ushered every Sunday without fail. It wasn’t unusual for him to grab one of
my kids and hold them on his lap while we went up for communion in the days before kids could
go along to be blessed. And he always had a twinkle in his eye and made us feel welcome.  

Donny was a family member. He married my cousin and then after she died, a best friend. I got
to know him in another way. He too was always in church, ushered every Sunday and charmed  people with his wit knowing when you saw him to expect a friendly razzing. 

Each one of these Senior Saints also had jobs outside of their church life and they lived their
faith in the way they treated people in their workplace and on the street. They weren’t different
people when they walked out of that church. You could count on the fact they were who theyrepresented themselves in and out of church.

And each of these people at one time or another served on the church council.

One of the things I liked best was that even if they didn’t always agree with what you did, or how
you viewed something, they would state their point without belittling and making you feel less
than.

These people, who are no longer with us, made a difference quietly in my life as a young adult
and as I aged. As I look around today I don’t know if my generation can live up to those Senior
Saints of the past. We tend to think of making a difference as making a big splash, but not as
one quietly living our lives, making a difference by just being themselves in someones life and
quietly spreading their faith.  

I look at our choir and see the spots some of those Saints used to occupy. I still see them
singing with joy along with the rest of the choir. They occupied those spots with other Senior Saints still alive. The choir is peppered here and there with younger ones, but not many. And I
wonder…in our churches… if anyone will be remembered as these that have gone before us are
remembered, for their kindness, their knowledge, and their dedication to their faith.  

I know I am failing. Am I the only one? Thank you special ones, who shared your lives and your
faith. You are indeed Saints. Grace you will be missed. Thank you for influencing my faith.