Editor’s note: this is our contribution to an initiative of NEA, who is asking friends of education from across the country to write open letters to the Class of 2025, this year’s incoming kindergarteners. These letters should convey the writers’ dreams, wishes, and visions for these five- and six-year-olds, including what experiences and opportunities public schools should provide them for the next 13 years—the bedrock of their future.
Dear Class of 2025,
As a mom, I remember how I felt not that long ago, when I took each of my daughters to their first day of Kindergarten. I will tell you what I told them during that first year of school, and what I remind them daily.
You will be given the opportunity to learn using tools and media that your parents most likely didn’t have when they were kids, such as computers, tablets and e-readers. Use them wisely, but don’t forget to ask adults around you how things were done when they were children. Although you will be using a keyboard often to type, and enjoy typing classes, know that practicing handwriting is important. Cursive longhand writing is an art, and it frees your creativity in a way that a keyboard may not. Keep your pencils sharpened and practice your letters using a variety of “old school” writing tools too, including ball-point pens and even fountain pens when you are older.
You and your parents may not always agree with standardized tests and other tools that are implemented and always evolving, which are meant to measure your level of knowledge of a particular subject. Know that the results of those tests are not accurate, or at least many of us believe so. Some kids get nervous before a test and score lower than they usually would for any other class assignment.
However, if you are attending public school, for now you have to figure out how to study for these tests, and find ways to relax before and during them. You will have to learn to navigate the educational system, without losing sight of who you are and how you prefer to do things in order to obtain the best results. Hopefully by the time you graduate, standardized testing will be a thing of the past, and more rational and accurate ways of evaluating students will be in place.
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The key to being successful in school and in life is managing to follow certain rules required to make society function as a whole, while getting to know yourself well enough that you are able to make those rules work for and not against you.
The world belongs to the creative souls of the earth. Don’t be afraid to color outside the lines or paint a tree purple instead of green. If you need to stay inside the lines in the classroom, make sure that you find time to explore your creativity at home.
Good grades are wonderful to have, but on their own, they don’t guarantee future success or happiness. As long as you are doing your best, and never quit trying, you´ll be fine. Be determined and always try to do a little more, a little better than you think you can.
Practice team sports like basketball, to learn to work with others, but also try track or cross-country running. Sometimes life is like a ball game, and others it’s a marathon.
It’s okay to make mistakes. What’s important is how willing you are to correct them. Parents and teachers make mistakes too, we all do, and know that as you grow up, you will be teaching them valuable life lessons as well. We all learn from one another.
It’s fine not to know something and admit it. The more questions you ask of your teachers and parents, the more information you will receive.
Do your best to resist peer pressure. When a friend dares you to do something you know you shouldn’t, don’t do it. Keep that in mind today and when you are an adult. You aren’t cooler when you follow what everyone else does or wants you to do.
You will be happier and more successful later in life if you realize early on that it’s okay to be different. Whether your skin is of another color, you were born outside this country, have a health condition or speak more than one language, know that makes you special. Reach out to children who are not like you, and find out about their culture, their religion, their family. By making other people feel special and comfortable around you, you will never feel alone. Help others who are less fortunate than you are. Be happy for them when they do well, and lend them a hand when they need one.
Most of all, enjoy your school years, and don’t be in a rush to grow up. It will happen so fast, that one day you will find yourself wishing you were back in school and that you could do it all over again. When you graduate, realize that´s when the real school will start. It´s called Life.