NOTE: This article first appeared in the September NETA Newsletter.
In 1986 Robert Fulghum published a book of short essays titled, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”. The first essay, whose name inspired the book’s title, made the case that we leave kindergarten with all of the skills we need to be successful in life.
Much has changed since 1986. Society has evolved, technology has become pervasive and even the youngest among us are exposed to technology and social media. So, do Fulgham’s ideas still hold truth? Is everything you need to know in the digital world taught to us in Kindergarten? In short, yes!
- Don’t over share. Kids say the darnedest things don’t they? As any elementary teacher can tell you, students can share things that should not be shared in public. From the, “well my mommy said…” to embarrassing stories about their home life young students need to develop a filter on what is appropriate to share in public. In the digital world, we also need to develop a filter on what is appropriate to share. Here, the stakes can and are higher than what a kindergartner might tell her teacher. Instead of simply being embarrassing for the teacher and parent, oversharing online can have real consequences. We need to remember what we learned in kindergarten – think before we post!
Being Kind to One Another
- The Golden Rule. One of the first rules we learn is to treat others as you would want to be treated. This is as important online as it is in our kindergarten classroom. In kindergarten, we learned that you shouldn’t take a friends blocks while they are playing with them or hit someone when you are frustrated with them because you wouldn’t want them to do that to you. Now grown, we need to consider how our actions online impact others. Was that comment you made on Instagram or Snapchat something that you would want someone to say to you? Would you say it in person?
- Make Friends. Friends teach us life skills, help us learn to have relationships, support us when we are in need and keep us grounded. Friends matter. Make friends in real life, and online. Develop a personal learning network. Reach out to others and support them. Connecting online can be just as powerful as connecting in real life. Spend time to nurture those relationships.
- Don’t bully. It doesn’t matter where you are – online or in kindergarten – don’t bully. Don’t say mean things to other people, talk behind their back or work to exclude them from groups. Be kind. Stick up for others.
Living a Balanced Life
- Everything in moderation. Eating a whole bag of Oreos will make you sick. Too much pop can give you a tummy ache and too much passive screen time can be bad. Don’t over indulge on any one thing. Playing video games all day is bad, as is spending all your time mindlessly surfing Facebook or playing CandyCrush. Instead, eat a couple of Oreos with some milk for dessert, play an hour of a video game, watch a movie, spend some time with friends online and offline. Mix it up! It will be good for you!
- Go outside and play. Technology is wonderful and amazing. You can do almost anything with a tablet or a computer. Create a work of art? Yep. Program your own game? Absolutely. Connect with people from around the world? Definitely. But just as it was great fun learn inside in kindergarten, we also learned how important it was to go outside for recess. Take a break from things and engage with the outdoors. Go for a run, take a walk or go to the park. Maybe even take a try at the monkey bars! Going outside is a great way to decompress from our busy world, just like it was in kindergarten.
Be Aware of Wonder
- Keep that sense of awe. Let things surprise you. Lastly, keep the sense of awe that we had as children. The world can be a scary place, but there is good out there. Seek it out. Use technology to connect with people. Find new places to explore. Use a travel app to find hidden treasures in your hometown or favorite vacation spot. Donate to someone in need using a crowd funding website. Do good. You’ll be amazed how you feel.