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Solving the World’s Problems From Kindergarten

We never know what sort of note we're going to find.

We never know what sort of note we’re going to find.

We’ve almost made it to the end of our daughter’s first year of school. It still seems like she should be toddling around with a pacifier, but she is almost a kindergarten graduate and ready to move on to the big time world of first grade. While, I’ve certainly spoken out about some issues with public school and the guilt trips that get thrown your way (please buy a t-shirt, water bottle, pizza kit to support our school!), it really is amazing what a year in kindergarten can do for a kid.

Wow, Mom, I Can Read That

Yes, my kindergartener has been reading since this past winter. I’d love to say it’s because we’ve  read to her since she was one day old, but kindergarten really takes credit for this huge achievement. She knew some letters and basic words going in, but now she can read and write just about anything. As you can see from the signs she leaves all over the house, the spelling hasn’t quite caught up, but I’m sure it will come later. She is super excited to come home almost daily with new words that she can read and recognize.

How Did You Get 24 Kids to Do That?

When I’ve been a visitor to my daughter’s class, it is amazing how well behaved and organized the classroom is. I’ve watched one teacher get all 24 kids to sit still and orderly while she counted out and distributed candy that was gathered from the homecoming parade. When I have a hard time getting one kid to brush her teeth or pick up toys, this is a truly amazing feat, and I was in awe. Kindergarten teachers are the true rock stars of the world.

Practical Life Lessons

Kindergarten has been a great way to learn life lessons. One day we were running late and didn’t make it before the final bell rang. I was mortified, because being punctual is very important for me. I don’t think it ever really sunk in to my six year old, though, until she had to stand in line for a tardy slip and then be late for class. We also talked about how being late affects the teacher’s plans for the day by disrupting them when someone walks in after class has started. Since then, she has been up and ready with minimal argument.

We’ve also used the school book fairs as financial teaching tools. I believe they have had four fairs this year.  Before a book fair, the kids get a flyer with all the books that will be available for purchase and how much they cost. We have let our daughter use her own money if she wants to buy a book. She studies the prices and decides which one she can afford. She also doesn’t want nearly as much if it’s her own money. Sometimes, she decides to save her money, and we get library books instead.

The other really neat thing kindergarten has taught her is that you can be rewarded for good behavior. All the students have a card for each day. You get one warning if you misbehave, and then the card is “turned”. A behavior folder is sent home daily with either a star for good behavior or an explanation of why the student’s card was turned. Parents have to sign every day that they saw the folder. If the student’s folder is signed every day for the week, a prize can be chosen from the prize box. I think it’s a good lesson that shows consequences for your actions. Do the right thing, you get a reward. Don’t behave, and you get nothing.

I often wonder when life stops being this simple. Is it because we make it harder or is it really that hard? I know that the problems you face as an adult are more complex than sharing toys and not speaking out of turn, but can’t we apply these same kindergarten concepts to real life?

-Enjoy every day, and cherish learning new skills.

-Think about how your actions affect not only yourself, but others.

-You can’t buy things you don’t have money for.

-You don’t always have to buy something because it’s offered.

-There is always a consequence for your behavior, whether it’s realized today or down the road.

When life seems complicated or when we are having a hard time with a decision, maybe we should remember what we learned from kindergarten. It might be surprising how simple the answers can be.

What adult decisions can you trace back to kindergarten? Do you think we make our lives more complicated than they have to be?


About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. that is amazing she can read before first grade! we learned a lot of order in kindergarden, I remember how we had to sit, raise our hand to speak, be respectful to each other… kids weren’t mean or obsessed with brands and cool toys. We definitely make things more complicated, life should be simple if we didn’t have to compete all the time against each other.
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  2. Taking each day as a brand new adventure seems to be what the kindergartner can offer — the simplicity is overwhelmingly beautiful. :) Thank you for this post.
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  3. Your daughter’s signs remind me of one of my colleague’s from work own daughter that comes to the office occasionally. When she’s in, she makes a paper sign that says, “Danas offis” and tapes it on the door to the empty office that she hangs out in. =)
    As for my own kindergarten experience, I don’t remember much except that my teacher let me stay awake in “nap time” in the afternoon and do extra work in my workbook instead. I was so weird!
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  4. So much to look forward to in terms of their learning and logic. Our son will be starting preschool in fall 2014 which seems far away but really will go by quick.
    Money Beagle recently posted..Why It’s Very Often Important To Follow A RoutineMy Profile

  5. So true, Kim! We do make it so much harder than it has to be! I see this more now as I watch people struggle with money like we once did (and still do as we pay off the debt. They hem and haw about what the secret is to not being in a money mess, and really, it’s so simple isn’t it? Simply stick to a budget and spend less than you make. And I’m always in awe of teachers. I’m lucky if I can get my four to sit down quietly and listen. :-)
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    • I am in awe that you are home schooling. I really admire parents who can do that. I think I would be terrible in that capacity.

  6. Our daughter has been reading for several months now and it really is neat to see them discover words and begin to read. My wife and I always spell out words if it’s something we just want to keep between the two of us and it’s hysterical to hear our daughter try and do the same thing and she just rattles off some huge string of meaningless letters. Oh, we totally make life more complicated than it should. I think many of us are guilty of that very thing. Have a great weekend Kim!
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  7. “You can’t buy things you don’t have money for [unless you are the federal government]” haha sorry I couldn’t help myself, I was just reading about some of the budget battles going on in DC and itw as on my mind. It sounds like your daughter learned so much in kindergarten, it’s incredible how effective some teachers are. Very impressive she is reading, too. I was in the “3rd tier” group in first grade learning my vowels while some kids were starting simple chapter books…I obviously came around, tho ;)
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    • I read an article that the Feds are only half a billion in the red this year, instead of a trillion. Let’s have a party!

  8. My sister is an elementary school teacher and I’m always amazed that she’s able to get 24 kids to do anything all together.
    Maybe life really is that simple. We tend to make it awfully complicated…
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  9. Sounds like you got one smart cookie there! I also think kindergarten teachers are saints. That’s a tough age to wrangle…or maybe I just got my information from kindergarden cop. :) It’s been far to long for me to remember any lessons I learned, but I do remember those being much simpler times.
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  10. We had a similar card system, except that it didn’t gets signed daily and there were punishments built in as well. First time you misbehaved, the card was turned. Second time, you got an :( on it and recess detention. Third time, you got after-school detention. And if you went a month without getting your card turned, you got a toy. I think I only got that toy once!
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  11. I am totally with you, teachers in general are rock stars. How they deal with all of those kids and then get them to learn is beyond me. I learned quite a few things in kindergarten, but the main one was how to be away from home and make friends. Three of my best friends that I have today I met in kindergarten.
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    • That’s really cool. I’m from a very small town, and when I go to visit, I often run into people I went to kindergarten with.

  12. You don’t have to spend money when something is offered to you…like those guilt trip t-shirts/popcorn/cookies/raffle tickets or whatever it is they are selling! ;)
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    • It has been a tough road to navigate, but I can proudly say we did not buy a pizza kit, water bottle, or magazine subscription this year!

  13. Life is that simple, it is just more of those things coming at once! It is easy to get overwhelmed, but keep it simple.
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  14. Love this post Kim :)I can’t believe in another 2 years, I’ll have a kid in kindergarten. Time flies…
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  15. What a great post! Those are truly life lessons that we can all carry with us, especially “enjoy every day, cherish learning”. I find myself all the time getting caught up worrying about all of the things I “have to do”. So important to slow down and spend time appreciating the things you already have.
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    • I’ve been trying to do that at least once a day. We do get ahead of ourselves, and I think it’s good to plan, but we sometimes need to just slow it down and enjoy.

  16. I love this post, Kim! Isn’t it amazing how quickly they learn once they start school. My youngest is just finishing 1st grade and I’m just blown away by how much she has learned and matured the past year. Those are some excellent life lessons and somehow we manage to complicate things as we grow older. We need to stop doing that. :) Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!
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  17. I’m always amazed at the things my daughter learns and how quickly she learns. Too bad we still aren’t as adept at that as adults!
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  18. Life always seems as if it starts out simple but ends up harder than I think it should be. We created this and now we have to live with it or simplify our lives back to those easier days where it all made sense without all the fuss. Life is too short. Thanks for sharing Kim
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    • I’ve been trying very hard to simplify my life. You can’t always get rid of all stress, but I do think I bring lots of unnecessary things home to worry about, and I’m trying to leave those behind.

  19. Watching my kids grow up into young adults has been a pleasure beyond description. There a lot of “holy cow” moments where the amount of insight they developed on their own was memorable. It looks like your on the road to a lot of those moments watching her grow up!
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  20. The best lesson I learned is that no one likes a sore loser, or a sore winner.

  21. My competitive nature - that’s what I definitely got (and still have). It was during kindergarten that I first started playing soccer with a bunch of friends, and I remember how much I hated to lose. Old habits never die :D
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  22. Book fairs, I totally forgot those existed. It’s so nice you’re using those as a financial learning tool. “Money doesn’t grow on trees, so we have to budget for the things we want”. So smart! We totally make life harder then it has to be sometimes. Ahh to be a child again.
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  23. Ah, that’s such a cute little sign! What a good way to practice writing. On the weekend my friend, who works as an educational assistant, joked that she has been sent back to kindergarten for good!
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