Kindergarten has changed, but not much

Two more of my grandchildren started kindergarten this year. It’s been interesting to see how schools have changed over the years.

North Liberty schools started a few days earlier than Cedar Rapids schools. Photo by Caryn Wellendorf

North Liberty schools started a few days earlier than Cedar Rapids schools. Photo by Caryn Wellendorf

I remember how excited I was to start school. Most of my brothers and sisters had already started school, and I couldn’t wait until I got to walk to school with the big kids.

I started 1/2-day kindergarten in Mrs. Dallman’s class at Grant Wood Elementary in Cedar Rapids in August 1968.

I was nervous as I sat down at a little table with some other kids. Some were crying because they didn’t want their moms to leave.  Maybe I should have been crying , too, but I didn’t. I was too busy looking at all the neat toys scattered around the room.

Mrs. Dallman told us to stand up and place our hand over our hearts and face the American flag that was in the corner. She told us that we had to say the Pledge of Allegiance everyday, and though we didn’t know it, she assured us that we would know it before we went into the first grade.

She had us stand facing the front of the classroom and taught us a song:

“Right to the windows, left to the door; up to the ceiling, and down to the floor.”

We learned another song: “I went to the animal fair, the birds and the beasts were there…” I still sing that song with my grandkids.

Mrs. Dallman had us sit on a rug while she sat in a chair. In her lap she had long manila cards. She explained that everyone’s name was on a card and every day she would hold one up. If we recognized our name, we needed to raise our hand and we would be the helper for the day.

The helper had the honor of helping the teacher pick up and got to take the little red wagon to the janitor’s closet to get little cartons of milk for snack time.

My oldest daughter started kindergarten at Grant Wood in 1989, but the days of 1/2 days were long gone. Kindergarteners attended school the entire day, which I thought was great for everyone involved.

I think with the extra time, kids learned how to read sooner. They were even writing stories before they went into first grade.

Holly was always bringing home pictures she had drawn and stories she had written. They even had a journal that he kids had to write in everyday.

When my oldest grandchildren started kindergarten a few years ago, they were already introducing them to computers, a trend that continues today.

My granddaughters, Ashlyn and Lily, are in kindergarten this year and knew how to use the computer even before they started school, and it’s apparent that computers have become a part of the kindergarten curriculum.

Other than the introduction of computers, school really hasn’t changed that much. Kids still complain about school lunches and homework, and teacher still complain about the lack of respect.

And we can’t forget recess, which is still the best part of the day.

I guess some things never change.

Moving forward

This summer has been filled with one adventure after another. And I don’t just mean family reunions and trips to the beach.

My dad in 1944, when he was stationed with the U.S. Navy in Seattle.

My dad in 1944, when he was stationed with the U.S. Navy in Seattle.

The truth is, much of my spare time has been spent writing. You wouldn’t know it by my lack of blog posts, but I have been devising a plan to publish a book.

I thought about moving forward with a plan for a local magazine…until I realized that the work load would kill me.

Taking on the roles of writer, photographer, and editor for the Hiawatha Advocate (along with distribution and book work) gave me a taste of the publishing world from the hyper-local aspect.

And though I still maintain the website, it’s not the same.

I miss it. I miss holding my creation in my hands. I miss that feeling of accomplishment after sending the PDF pages off to the printer, knowing that my newspaper had value.

And while I had to be careful not to become too prideful, (the typos humbled me significantly!) I couldn’t help but feel that I was providing a much-needed service to the people of Hiawatha.

Just because they weren’t ready for it right now, doesn’t mean they won’t ever be,

In any case, I accepted that it was time to move on and set my sights on other ways I could satisfy my need to create.

I tried freelance; writing, photography, etc. I have had my own company, Meis Communications, for  over two years, so I thought I would throw it out there and see if I had any takers.

I did, just not in the way I thought I would. I accepted a freelance job with the Marion Times as the reporter for the Marion Independent School District. It’s not a lot of reporting, but it gets my name out there.

But then my need to pay my bills got in my way and I accepted a position at Hibu (formerly Yellowbook) as a pagination specialist. (a fancy name for someone who places ads on pages magazines from all over the country in InDesign and performs QA before the magazine is shipped to the printer…I love it!)

Hibu also has opportunities to submit articles and photos to the local magazine-Cedar Rapids NE, Cedar Rapids SW, and NE Marion. I have submitted an article and photos to the Cedar Rapids magazines.

And with my growing family and other responsibilities, I stay pretty busy.

Some of my followers will remember that I wrote a few months ago about my father. I found the manuscript he wrote about his life story and decided to type it up for my family.

But something happened when I started typing his story up. I realized I didn’t really know my dad. I realized that I had resentments decades old that prevented me from wanting to get close to him, to appreciate all the wonderful things he did for me, to know the man who had so much to offer.

And as I started to read about my dad’s many adventures through life, the walls I had built around my heart began to come down, and for the first time, I saw my dad for who he was; a man who was just trying to do the best he could with what he had.

This father of 10 nearly died in a car accident in 1967 and it traumatized the entire family. I’m not sure if any of us ever really recovered emotional. But it’s time.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of my father’s death.  My only regret is that I didn’t try harder to build a better relationship with him.

That may not be possible, but maybe I can resolve old hurts and misunderstandings.

At the very least, it will provide an interesting premise for my next project.