August 10, 2013

The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten

by Maureen Fergus
Illustrated by Mike Lowery
Kids Can Press
978-1-55453-698-6
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
March, 2013

With school just around the corner (you have seen the back-to-school sales advertised already, haven't you?), many teachers and parents are starting to think about those first days and how to make them run smoothly and still be fun.  The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten by Maureen Fergus and illustrated by Mike Lowery is a wonderful new youngCanLit to use in the classroom for introducing rules in a humourous context or at home to prepare little ones for their first years in school, without preaching.
 
Kindergarten can be a trying experience for both parent and child but not for the little girl who narrates The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten.  She loves school.  "It was better than a dinosaur museum, a circus, and a super-duper mega-three-scooper ice-cream sundae."  Mom on the other hand seems a little sad to see her little one go off to school.  So, her daughter politely asks if Mom would like to come inside, sensing the need to help Mom through this experience.

But Mom is so excited that she just barrels right in there.  She doesn't know that you don't barge in at the front of the line, that you take off your outdoor shoes and put them away in your cubby, that you raise your hand, wait your turn and don't shout out, that you clean up after yourself, that you use an indoor voice in the library, and that no one speaks during Story Time.  Mom has a lot to learn.  Luckily her daughter is already well versed in kindergarten protocols, and the teacher, Ms Beaudry, is very understanding and accepts that sometimes it takes a while to get comfortable with something new.  But the message is still clear.

"...school is nicer for everybody if you try to be considerate of others."

Robert Fulghum's popular essay, titled All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (Villard Books, 1988), still holds its truth and veracity twenty-five years later.  Maybe it's because those truths are so relevant to all persons, irrespective of age or other distinction, that the similar messages, graphically enhanced in The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten, are so universal and beneficial to harmonious relationships.  Now, if everyone could just remember those messages after they leave kindergarten, our world undoubtedly would be more equitable with less strife.  Mom certainly has all the attributes of a child in a new, inviting situation (check out her earnest expression on the book's cover) and in need of some gentle reminders about the right way to do things at school.  Fortunately, she picks up on the school etiquette, courtesy of her daughter, and realizes that maybe she shouldn't be attending kindergarten after all.  And you can bet she won't bud in line at the grocery store ever again.

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