Thursday, February 25, 2016

Throwback Thursday--Wally's School Days

For a while, I was doing a regular feature called School Days. This was where I interviewed people about their earliest school memories. Below is the interview I did with Wally about his. Of course, I have some different memories as a parent about his early schooling. Here's one is one of them.

We went to our first parent-teacher conference and his teacher had an assortment of Wally's papers showing us his work. One of them was a picture of a house and his family. All of the kids in the class had some version of this. His was not particularly advanced showing a simple house, stick figures, with no perspective. However, she made an interesting comment. She said that everyone looked happy in the picture and they can really tell a lot about a family from a  picture drawn by a kindergartner. She said you wouldn't believe what the kids draw sometimes. Ward and I gave each other a sideways glance and nodded waiting for her to move onto the next subject.

After we got outside, we said, "Boy are we lucky that she didn't see the picture Wally drew yesterday." In that picture, we were a family of fishes in which Ward had big, scary teeth and was eating the rest of us. I'm not sure what Wally was thinking when he drew it and I don't know what his teacher would have thought if she had seen it.  But I'm glad she didn't, so we didn't have to explain that for the most part, we really were like his school picture.

Now here are Wally's memories of his kindergarten year.

MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2012

School Days--Wally

School Days is a reoccurring feature in which I ask people about their early memories of school. Everyone has a story to tell about this and I hope to give them a voice here. 

Here is today's story.
Wally started kindergarten at age five in the 1990's in Houston, TX. His school was the neighborhood public elementary school.

Wally at kindergarten field day.
Tell me about starting school.
My kindergarten class was was in a portable building outside of the main school. There were two portable buildings next to each other for all of the kindergarten classes. Beside our buildings was a large grassy field about the size of 2-3 football fields. Now that I think about it, the grounds of the school were quite large. Larger than the high school that I went to.

I remember that there was a flower garden between the two buildings. One day I crumpled up some dry leaves and put them in the flower bed. Another kid told me that was stupid. I told him it wasn't because the leaves would decompose and help the flowers. He didn't believe me and asked the teacher if that was right. She said I was.

Did you go into the main building much?
Not really. We went to music and art in there. Kindergarten was only half a day, so we didn't eat lunch there. However, I went to first grade in the main building. My school wasn't like most schools. The walls didn't go all of the way to the ceiling.

Did that cause a problem with noise?
Not that I remember. The teachers were good at moving us around and coordinating their teaching so we wouldn't disturb each other. Also, the walls were about two inches thick and had good noise canceling properties. 

One day one of the walls fell down on one of the students. I don't think they got hurt, but it caused a lot of excitement.

Did you like school or have a favorite subject?
I was indifferent about most of it. However, I did like field day. All of the school came out for competitions with relay races of various kinds. The best part was the snow cones we had. 

Thanks. Another time I would like to hear more stories about your school days.


  1. Oh, I laughed out loud with your story about the fish picture. You can tell how bright your little boy was--so smart to put the dry leaves in the flower bed.

    Our elementary was built in the 60s. In the upper-elementary end of the school, an open-room format was in vogue then. The rooms are built on a rectangle surrounding the library (which is on a sunken floor) and have 3 walls, but the area facing the library is wall-less. The teachers make it work but it is a struggle. More kids with autism and sensory disorders are mainstreamed these days and the constant movement and noise makes it hard for them to concentrate. It's difficult for the teachers, too, having to constantly keep the classroom noise level down. If a child acts out, it disturbs not only the class itself, but all the surrounding ones. We have been blessed with fabulous teachers, but the building itself leaves a lot to be desired.

    1. My kids' first school was one of the hold outs from the open concept movement. What I determined from that experience was that the principal makes all the difference. If they were familiar with it, it worked well. If they came from a traditional school, it didn't work so well.

      Wally's school was well run and they didn't have the traditional problems associated with the open concept. The part of Texas we were in was also very accommodating with special needs. In fact, they built a special room for just one child to get away when he was getting overwhelmed.

      When we moved here and my kids moved into self contained classrooms, they had a hard time adjusting because it was so loud. Since they didn't have to worry about noise disturbing others, the classrooms were much louder than they were used to. It's not what you would immediately think, but my very distractible boy did better in a well run open concept school than in a traditionally built one.


What do you think?