Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Today is Kindergarten Day

Each year on April 21st, National Kindergarten Day honors the birthday of Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel (born 1782) who started the first Kindergarten in Germany in 1837. Froebel was a German teacher who believed that children learn through play and experience. German immigrants brought Froebel’s ideas to the US in the 1840s. The first kindergarten in a public school in the US was started in 1873, in St. Louis, Missouri.

I started kindergarten at age 4 in the fall of 1960 at First Presbyterian Church School in Winston-Salem.  I was born just after the cut-off (mid-October, I believe) but my mother thought I was ready.  I was thrilled!  I loved every minute of kindergarten as you can tell by my smile in the class photo.  I'm seated on the front row, 5th from the left.

Kindergarten class, 1960-1961
First Presbyterian Church School, Winston-Salem, NC

This was before public kindergarten in North Carolina.  My mother figured that if I had to drop out or repeat the class in private school, it wouldn’t be on my permanent record. Not to worry - I loved every single thing about kindergarten!

  • I loved going somewhere every day!
  • I loved being around other children, who wanted to play and be silly like I did!
  • I loved singing songs and listening to stories!
  • I loved playing outside and racing around!
  • I loved learning colors and letters and numbers!

For nap time, we had to bring a bath towel from home and lay on it on the floor.  We didn’t have to go to sleep, but we had to lie down and be quiet.  I distinctly remember lying there thinking what fun I was having at kindergarten!

The only problem was that I was very envious of another little girl’s hair.  I had short blond wavy hair.  She had very long, smooth, dark brown hair.  And she sometimes wore it plaited into two pigtails.  I was so envious; my little 5-year-old self couldn’t stand it!  So one day, I dipped her pigtails in paint.  She swung her head, the pigtails went flying, and so did the paint!

Despite that incident, the next year, I started first grade.  School was not nearly as much fun.  It was work!

It's hard to believe that I graduated from kindergarten 60 years ago!