Little kindergartens are cute!!! I know this because despite being a Grade 4 teacher, I cover a kindergarten class once a week and they are SOOO cute (well, for that one period anyway…bless those full time K teachers; you are Angels!). But, a few weeks back, a little kindergarten boy made me sad. That’s right, that little cutie really had me down. Here’s what happened….
It was free play when I arrived in the classroom. Please don’t misinterpret the title “free play” to be anything less than what it is. I am continuously impressed by the programming that many kindergarten teachers have implemented with their inquiries for learning. There are teachers who have set up exceptional learning stations for students that are both creative and engaging beyond belief. Sometimes I wish that I could ‘play.’
Typically, there is a station that focuses on technology. Students have access to a computer and engage in learning games online. As most of us know, this generation of children have an innate understanding for technology and are adept at using it – one swipe at 9 months old and they’re hooked! As a result, the computer is often over inundated with children. However, the children often become so enthralled with the computer that a whole period can go by with little exposure to the other activities the room has to offer.
So I tried something new the other day. I gently explained to the ‘usual suspects’ at the computer, that they had spent enough time playing digital games that day and that they were now encouraged to find another activity in the room. The gentle encouragement had to become a direct instruction when those little bodies didn’t move an inch. You would have thought that I had taken away their birthday!
With some reluctance, each of the kids headed off in their own direction, but were able to find something else that caught their attention, except for one little boy. He slowly walked away, head down, slumped shoulders, with lots of sadness in his face. This is what he said, “this is so boring.” I surely misheard right? So, I asked him to tell me what he had just said. He repeated, “This is so boring.” Five years old, cute as a button and b-o-r-e-d. In a room far more appealing than any kindergarten class I was ever in at that age and he was distressed and bored.
I had the Kindergarten blues.
My immediate reaction was well, to react. But I caught myself and reacted later on, in my own time (hence the fact that you are now reading my thoughts). I re-directed this little boy to some activities that I thought might catch his interest again and explained how fortunate he was to have this room full of so many wonderful opportunities, friends and most of all, his own IMAGINATION. What is that word again? IMAGINATION.
Now don’t roll your eyes and yawn as though I am about to tell the old, “I walked five miles to school story,” like your parents probably once told you. But, I am going to say that some days I really feel that imagination has been compromised by technology. I DO remember the days of having three old boxes that were going to be thrown out, a blanket, a laundry basket and a basement. You know what else I had? An entire amusement park, with concession stands and roller coaster rides to boot (just in case you didn’t put it together – the boxes, blanket and laundry basket were the amusement park in our basement).
This is just what we did – repeatedly.
So you can maybe understand why I might be faced with the Kindergarten blues at this point in my day.
Creativity is the essence of all creation in life.
We are all innately creative beings. Imagination is built into the core of all individuals. While it may be expressed in different ways, it is there for us to experiment with, to ‘find’ ourselves, to help us to experience our flow and to bring us, as well as others, great joy.
Creativity is there to be fully discovered, as it’s our gift to share with the world.
Sometimes however, we need a little assistance to tap into this inner creativity. For me, consistent meditation and balance gets me there, for others it comes with daily reminders or, from prompts from those who really care. This was my intent on that day when I had the Kindergarten blues. It was not that I considered technology to be of lesser value rather, I wanted my kids to have the opportunity to seek knowledge from a variety of different outlets. I wanted them to stretch their minds a little bit further and explore the unknown, the not yet created. I wanted them to experience the joy of making an entire amusement park out of boxes, blankets and laundry baskets!
The reality is, technology is now a part of our society; a large part and likely will be for many years to come. It would be ignorant of us to dismiss technology or to devalue it. But, this is not to say that we are unable to preserve some of the old tradition that lies within our own imaginations as well. Life is a balancing act that can be applied to all areas of our existence. I think this is one area that as Educators and Parents, we may need to nourish just a bit more. Creativity needs to be harnessed and groomed as a child, so that it comes to the surface just as effortlessly as an adult.
When I imagine a Nation built upon imagination, it is very challenging to maintain those Kindergarten blues.
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I agree that the most fun as a child, happened in our basement with cardboard boxes. I remember when we got a refrigerator box. We would do somersaults inside of it and roll with it across the room. We turned it into a castle and decorated it. When the box finally fell apart we then turned it into a “slide” by running at it and sliding on our sock feet. It was endless entertainment for us children. So much fun and so much imagination at play. According to the book “Slow” which talks about the slow movement, children learn a lot when it is “free play or unstructured time”. Adults have a tendency to want to have children booked into formal activities so that every moment of the day the child is being “productive”. And yet the studies show that children who have unstructured time to play, are allowing their brains to grow as they engage their imaginations.