Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Letter to Children on Their First Day of School

Today my grandchildren woke up to their clothes laid out, their backpack packed and that tingling sense of anticipation— it’s the first day of school! If you already had your first day, did you have that same feeling? If your school hasn’t started yet, are you eager to begin? I went to school for 17 years as a student and 45 as a teacher and I always felt that same excitement. A chance to start over, to re-connect with people I didn’t see all summer, to wonder what lay ahead in the grand adventure of learning.


To tell you the truth, after the first day of excitement, I often was disappointed as a kid with all the rest of the days. Too much standing in line, too much sitting in desks, too much raising your hand for the right answer to questions I never asked and often didn’t care about. As a teacher, I made sure it was more fun for both the students and me. More getting up and moving around— well, actually dancing! A lot of games and a lot of playing around, but always with a serious purpose to find out what our bodies can do, our minds can understand, what feelings our hearts can hold. 


So I wish that school will feel like a grand playground for you. My advice? Try everything out in the playground! Find out what’s easy, what’s hard, decide what you want to master and see if you can get all the way to the other side of the balance beam. Explore, discover, notice how cardboard gets you faster down the slide and choose your piece carefully. Climb up the ropes to as high as you’re comfortable and then go one step higher. Swing on the swings with your own pumping power and notice how your days will be like that, swinging back and forth between happy and sad, easy and hard, fun play and hard work. Teeter-totter with your friend and never, ever jump off and send them sprawling to the ground. Climb through tunnels, jump through hoops or just simply run around and then collapse on the grass looking up at the sky. See what pictures the clouds are making for you today. 


And yes, it’s nice to occasionally go on the carousel and let the machine do all the work while you relax— but don’t get too attached to that. It’s your own body and mind and heart that needs to exercise, every day, and not just to tick off numbers on your fit-bit (I hope you don’t have one!), but for the pleasure of it all. And for goodness sake, sing! 


These my wishes for you as you begin school again. May them come true! And if the teachers forget, please remind them. 



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