Opinion – Judy Harris: Lessons from kindergartners

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than how it treats its children.” — Nelson Mandela

In the ‘90’s, I heard that Boone County schools had 19 foreign languages represented in their student body.

Could I even name nineteen foreign languages then? Doubtful.

Judy Harris (Photo provided)

The internationalization of our student population had begun and was flourishing.

A few months ago, I stopped by a local school to drop off some art supplies for a kindergarten. The students were finishing Center Time, independent activities for skill development.

I was invited in.

As the students began to gather round to see who I was and what I’d brought, the teacher introduced me saying we had been friends for a long time.

I asked the children if they would like to tell me their first names.

Already engaging and eager, Ryan spoke up saying, “I’m Ryan.
I can spell my name…R-Y-A-N.” Ryan set the standard so around the class they went telling their names and spelling their names.

Lots of smiles. We enjoyed meeting each other.

A few of the children were new to the USA, coming here recently with their families.

At last, there was the final kindergartner standing to the side of the group.

She was very shy.

New country, new language.

She spoke very softly, “My name is Alexandra.”

Her teacher smiled and nodded to her.

“I can spell my name,” Alexandra said. She began very thoughtfully, very slowly, “A…L…E…X…A…N…D…R…A.”

“That’s wonderful,” I said with a big smile.

Alexandra smiled shyly and nodded back.

She already knew it was wonderful.

One thought on “Opinion – Judy Harris: Lessons from kindergartners

  1. I can see you standing in that classroom and smiling as each curious child spelled their name for you! I’m so glad your smile gave Alexandra the courage and confidence to use her new language. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all children were treated this way?!

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