This I Believe

Catherine - Merrimack, New Hampshire
Entered on March 31, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: children
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This I Believe

I teach public Kindergarten in a small town in southern New Hampshire. My town is a typical one where people take pride in raising their family, where schools and children come first. Like many school districts, mine has a regulation that makes available a moment of silence each school day as part of the opening exercises. After the Pledge of Allegiance is recited together over the intercom system, our Principal asks all students to remain standing for a moment of silence.

That first day of school, my kindergarten students looked very puzzled as if to ask, “What does that mean?” I instinctively said, “Think of those who love and care for you” knowing that this was something they could understand. The classroom became very silent. I wasn’t prepared for how seriously this would be taken by five year olds. I was pleasantly surprised and I’ve said it every morning since.

I am still touched to see how intently my young students take on this charge to remain standing for a moment of silence. I am still moved by their smiles, knowing they are thinking of people who love and care for them. What a wonderful way to start our day! I frequently ask someone whom he or she was thinking of. Typically they answer, “My Mom” or “My Dad” and, of course, a grandparent’s nickname is common, “My Mimi” or “My Papa”. What usually follows is a story. It’s an opportunity to learn more about that child’s home life and what matters most to them. It’s especially dear when a child answers, “My big brother” or “My baby sister.”

I used to spend the moment of silence thinking out my day, the lessons planned, the calendar spread out on my desk. But, after observing the impact this moment has made, I now take the moment for myself. I think of those who have loved and cared for me: My parents, grandparents, siblings, dear friends, and, certainly, my husband and daughters. I can’t help but smile, and even find myself laughing out loud at some cherished memory.

There is much debate about prayer in the public schools. I’ll leave that to the politicians. A moment of silence, whether it is mandated or not, should be a daily habit. This I have learned from Kindergartners, this I believe.