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.

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