By Alandra Johnson • The Bulletin
School starts in just a few short weeks. For some first-time kindergartners, this could be a nerve-wracking experience. We wanted to offer some advice for those kindergartners who could be feeling a bit uncertain about this whole “school” thing. We turned to experts in this area: incoming first graders.
These 6-year-olds just finished kindergarten at local schools and offered their best tips and advice for incoming kindergartners. They shared the best things about kindergarten and the hardest things, the best spots on the playground and the best ways to make friends.
Ruby Phillips, 6, Cascades Academy
Ruby was not nervous when she started kindergarten last year. But she has a message for kids who might be feeling a little unsure: “You’ll make new friends.”
Her favorite part of school? “Meeting every single teacher there was even though I was just in kindergarten.” Other favorites included making a picture frame out of foam and “being able to play at recess.”
As for first grade, she’s excited to learn how to knit.
Foster Kettering, 6, High Lakes
Foster says he learned a ton in kindergarten. “I learned about a lot of stuff. … When we learned about dogs, we had like a therapy dog come to our school and we had a police dog come to our school and so it was fun. But the therapy dog, she was missing one leg.”
“I like the field trips, they’re fun … it was fun going to Mount Bachelor and one time we went into the lava cave … it was really cool. You don’t get to go to the last part of the lava cave.”
His advice for new students? It’s fun. They’re going to be good.
Madeleine Stassen, 6, High Lakes
Madeleine wants new kids to know one thing: “The teachers are really, really nice and that’s all.”
Madeleine especially loved her teacher. “She was really, really nice and she was really, really fun.” Madeleine’s favorite parts of school were arts and crafts and singing. The hardest part? Math. But she says it “was kind of fun, too.”
Madeleine says it took her three or four days to figure out the best part of the playground — the monkey bars.
She tells new kids not to be nervous. Kindergarten is “really, really fun.”
Asked the best part of kindergarten, Madeleine says, “It was half-day. It was really short.”
Aidan Goldman, 6, High Lakes
“Scared” — that’s how Aidan felt starting school last year.
“I knew there was going to be a playground because there was always … because we’d been there a thousand times before I started.” But he didn’t know what teacher he was going to have and he just felt nervous. So what helped make him feel better?
“I had three recesses … sometimes on Friday you can get an extra one.”
Asked if he could give any advice, Aidan shook his head. “I have no idea. I can’t have any idea.”
His favorite part of school is probably free choice, which is when “you could just play with whatever you want … like in my classroom there’s a million things I can’t even think of them.”
The hardest part of school? “Concentrating, because every room is really, really loud.”
So how is Aidan feeling about heading into first grade? “Scared.”
What would make him feel better?
“I have no idea,” he said.
Emerson Halter, 6, High Lakes
When Emerson started kindergarten last year, she remembers feeling one thing. “I felt excited because I wanted to be a big kid.”
She says the most fun part about school was math. The hardest part? Also math.
“Well when I first started out, it was really hard to do math and now I’m really good at it.”
Her advice to new students is to “say hello and good luck.”
And she says the way to make friends is “you just have to be really nice.”
As for first grade, Emerson says she’s really excited to learn how to read.
Cooper Naranche, 6, Lava Ridge
We’ll let Cooper tell you about his first day of kindergarten: “I was a little bit nervous to meet a few new friends and I was just, like, afraid to just, like, meet them. I kinda hid behind the door sometimes and just got a little bit scared and my mom was like, ‘It’s time for school buddy, go inside.’ And I went inside and there were a whole bunch of kids and they were nice and I felt really happy and I was glad to be there.”
Just like that, poof, his nervousness was gone.
“I would say don’t be afraid, it’s really fun.”
He says his favorite part of school “is recess, listening to my teacher and that’s pretty much it.”
Asher Nichols, 6, Lava Ridge
Asher says his favorite part of kindergarten was meeting new friends, and the hardest part was math. He wants new students to know that field trips are cool.
“I really liked going to the bakery and the library (pronounced lie-berry) and I got to touch wheat bread and it was really cool.”
Asher also shared his wisdom on making friends. “You have lots of friends and you get new friends and they give you stuff and you give them stuff.”
Asher explained the best way to make new friends. “You just be nice to them and then they might be your friend.”
He hopes new kindergartners won’t be too nervous. “If you’re about to start school, don’t be shy because you make new friends.”
Miles Ogzewalla, 6, West Side Village Magnet School
One of the things Miles liked best about kindergarten last year was learning new things. “I got to know how volcanoes erupt … if there’s an earthquake in some areas, the volcano can start shifting and can erupt.”
He said the hardest thing he had to do in school was “I writed a book.”
Miles says it isn’t hard to make new friends. The best way is to “sit with them at lunch, play with them at recess.”
He’s excited to go to first grade because in his school, that means he will “be responsible for other kids and other kids that are moving into kindergarten.” He will tell them not to run in the halls and not to punch or kick.
Jude Anderson, 6, Miller Elementary School
Jude remembers feeling excited about school, but “I was nervous about the bus.” Luckily he had his older sister there to help him. “She helped me get my water bottle. She helped me get my clothes out and she helped me get to class,” said Jude. He said the best way to make friends is “by asking them if they love Jesus or not … you just ask them and tell them about the Bible.”
Jude says if a kindergartner was feeling really nervous he would tell them: “That it’s OK. Your teacher is going to be really nice.”
Middle and high School
Older students offer some insightful advice for students entering local middle and high schools:
Adam Hess, 16, junior at Mountain View High School
He cautions new students that high school is a whole new experience.
“When you go into high school, you have to mature a little because it’s kind of like the beginning of adult life.”
Adam believes the most important piece of advice he can offer new freshmen is “just be yourself, that’s the best thing you can do.” He encourages freshmen not to “do what people expect you do to.”
“The worst things you can do is become someone you’re not,” he said.
In some ways, he says, high school is similar to middle school “it’s just a lot more people and there’s a lot more peer pressure.”
In terms of academics, he says, “If you do a good job, then you’ll get good grades.” The difference is that everything counts. This is the time to step it up.”
Adam says playing football and being involved in extracurriculars help keep his grades in check.
He also thinks activities are good because they “may give them something to do as opposed to just sitting and waiting and playing video games and stuff.”
Ellysa Lindenmaier, 17, senior at Mountain View High School
Ellysa sent in her thoughts on high school (slightly edited) via email:
I think the biggest regret I’ve had is hoping that high school would just end faster. Of course there are SAT tests and high school drama we would like to avoid but … high school is supposed to be fun. … I know now that with my last year just around the corner I wish I hadn’t rushed through the experience.
High school is a place for us to prep for college. So many kids stress about AP classes and straight A’s. I’ve found that taking classes I’m interested in, rather than what colleges are interested in, has made my high school experience more enjoyable.
It’s a waste of time to try to be someone you’re not just to fit in. Real friends will like the real you. Your friends might not end up being the “popular” kids of the school but who cares. Also, I would advise becoming friends with many groups of people. It’s reassuring to know at least one person in each of your classes and it’s very likely you won’t end up in the same class as your best friend.
I switched high schools sophomore year and found myself sitting in what seemed to be another dull classroom, but the best teacher I’ve ever had ended up teaching it. (Mr. McDonald, English teacher at Summit High) He treated us (all awkward 15-year-olds) like real people, which most teachers in my experience haven’t. Also … (the) best choice I made was to become friends or at least talk to people I maybe didn’t see myself being friends with. I was a scared freshman but once I figured out that talking makes such a big difference, I had a better experience.
Sofia Boone, 12, eighth grade, High Desert Middle School
Sofia’s best advice is based on experience. “The first thing that comes to mind is doing your homework right when you get it or as quickly as possible. Putting it off for the last minute doesn’t really work.”
Sometimes math homework might seem minor, but will take much more time than expected, she said.
Socially, Sofia suggests trying “to make friends with people that you actually like and who will … understand you, have common interests and stuff.”
She says some people try to be friends with people that are friends with everyone else. That doesn’t work.
“You want to be friends with people that you like.”
When it comes to activities, Sofia recommends new students pursue their own interests even if their friends aren’t involved. That’s what she did when most of her friends decided to give up choir after sixth grade. She ended up becoming closer friends with several other people who stayed in the class.
Sofia recommends, as much as possible, that students “try to avoid being absent … getting sick and missing school can set you back a lot.” Homework and projects can really add up and catching up can be “really, really tiring and just hard.”
While Sofia says the first few weeks can feel a little daunting for new students, “don’t stress too much in the beginning … as long as you’re trying and pursuing your interests and trying your best to do all the work, you should be fine.”
Vinna Ottaviano, 12, eighth grade, REALMS
When you’re in fifth grade, Vinna says, you feel like you’re “great and awesome.” You’re smart and tall.
In sixth grade? “You’re at the bottom of the food chain … everyone taller than you and smarter than you.”
She cautions incoming middle schoolers: “Be prepared to lose again, to not be as good as you were.”
Vinna advises students to “avoid acting like you’re the best. Don’t get cocky — that’s not good. (Older students) know the circumference of a circle and you probably don’t.”
Instead she suggests new students be nice and try to make friends. “Act like you want to learn something.”
Socially, Vinna suggests “don’t listen to gossip … don’t have a biased opinion of someone before you meet them.”
A final suggestion? “Turn your homework in on time.”