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It Is True All We Need To Know We Learned In Kindergarten

Updated on November 26, 2015

I never went to Kindergarten.

It was available when I was a little boy, don’t get me wrong. I’m not that old.

But I guess my parents didn’t think that I needed to go to one. Or we merely couldn’t afford one, either of the two, I’m not sure. Although I would rather think that I really didn’t need to go.

My younger sister did and she was the only one in our family who did.

It was different back then.

Now, it is a totally new world. And the kids of today need all the help they can get, the parents too.

And that is probably why all my nephews, nieces, and my son, all went to Kindergarten.

Hooray! Robert Fulghum will be so proud.

You know what? I still have his Kindergarten book somewhere in the house, somewhere. I read it a long long time ago. I couldn’t even remember it now.

But you know what?

Now that I saw my son go through Kindergarten and also through First Grade, I too am convinced that all we needed to know we can get a hold of when we really look at life through the eyes of a Kindergartener or whatever you call them silly little buggers.

And if you have one or two of those ankle-biters or rugrats, then you probably do not have enough time to read this and so I will only concentrate on three things.

1. Kids Trust (And Are Careful Not To Disappoint) Their Teacher

Although kids more often than not trust their first teacher, parents also do learn to trust their kid’s first teacher.

Even though, I know parents look at their kid’s first teacher suspiciously from time to time and wonder what they do to their precious little one when they leave and when no one’s looking.

They look at them through the corner of their eyes and listen in on every word they say to their child pretending they aren’t paying any attention or are cool with leaving their child with somebody they barely know.

And then they ask their kid what happened to them in school and asked specifically for Mr. Smith or Ms. Smith (their child’s teacher) and they ask about what they did in school that day. Yes, I did say they learn to trust their kid’s first teacher and that could be a long process. But kids they just do. They’re good like that.

2. Kids Hurt One Another But They Forgive And Forget (Or They Move To Another School)

I know kids will be kids and that there will always be somebody else’s kid who will be bigger, who will be more rowdy and who will more or less bully over all the other kids.

And you see them from time to time, a particular kid pushing, hitting or hurting your own. Sometimes you smile at it, other times you want to pick the other kid up at his shirt’s collar and tell him, “What’s wrong with you?”

And then you see how bad that would look like and you then smile some more or whimper. What’s surprising though is that five, ten minutes later the very same kids who were only minutes before hurting each other are back to happily playing with each other. Yes, as if nothing happened. And the even weirder thing about it, they will go through the same thing over and over for the whole year. Go figure.

3. Kids Only See The Similarities They Have With The Other Kids

You may not pick this up but you might if you look close enough.

You see my kid went to a kindergarten class where there were a significant number of kids of mixed race parents. And the rest had parents who came from five different continents. They also belong to a number of different faith beliefs, different age groups and different caste systems (pardon the political uncorrectness).

Also even though about half of my son’s class were of the same age, a few were close to a full year younger and the rest were one year to close to two years older.

And we are not even talking about their individual peculiarities. But it goes without saying that the kids who were in my son’s class all look, act, talk, walk, smell and think differently from one another.

But the entire year, I had never noticed any of them look at any of their obvious differences. In fact, all of them seem to notice only their less obvious similarities, something to think about, really.

Okay I know I said I will concentrate on three things but I need to add a fourth, a fifth and a sixth thing, well because these are the obvious opposites of the first three and these are for us older kids.

4. Adults Distrust Everyone

Then what happened when they grew up to become like us who most probably have not trusted anybody else since the fifth grade.

Trust, once natural for Kindergarteners are all but gone to most of us. How do you think the world will look like if we could all be as trusting as we were as Kindergarteners? I know, it’s hard to go back to that point in our lives especially if we have been burned bad more than once. But that might be the only thing that could change our life for the better, to start to trust somebody once again.

5. Adults Sometimes Forgive But Rarely Forgets

Need I say more?

When was the last time we ever really forgiven somebody who hurt us? And if we even did ever manage to do that, when was the last time that we have ever forgotten the hurt?

Again, what a wonderful world we can all have, if we did.

And more importantly, what wonderfully happy lives we could all be living if we haven’t been dragging and carrying around all those super heavy and totally useless I-was-hurt-by-you-and-I-wouldn’t-forget luggages on our backs. Leave that bag baby, or I might charge you extra for it like what airlines are now doing with your carry-on luggages.

6. Adults Only See Each Other’s Differences

Yes, if kids only see each other’s similarities, then what do we as adults see?

Yes, again, quite the opposite in fact. All we see are each other’s differences, at least most of the time. Grow up people. Or rather grow down people, go back to when you were five... so much natural, so much the real you.

People have more in common that we care to admit. You just have to throw all your preconceived notions and all your stereotypical images of certain people out of your already cluttered mind to make room for what are most probably the more important things in your life you have been neglecting.

Yes, you may have not have read or may have forgotten that you had read Robert Fulghum’s book “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten” but from now on, you can at least say that you have read 4x4’s piece “It Is True All We Need To Know We Learned In Kindergarten”.

And you can tell everyone, that you just didn’t learn it back then but learned it through the eyes of your own Kindergartener or of mine.

An excerpt from the book, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don't hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don't take things that aren't yours.

Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.


Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

Be aware of wonder.

Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup:
The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if all - the whole world - had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put thing back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are - when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

© Robert Fulghum, 1990. All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, Villard Books: New York, 1990, page 6-7.


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