Years ago, Robert Fulghum wrote a book of short essays titled, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. The first essay, bearing the title of the book, is a list of things that Fulghum learned in his first organized school setting. Things like the importance of sharing, playing fair, putting things back where you found them, saying you are sorry, and the need to take a nap every afternoon.
While I respect Fulghum’s position on the need for society to embrace such values, I cannot honestly say I learned everything I needed to know while in kindergarten.
Perhaps it’s because I didn’t go to kindergarten.
Looking back, I am not sure it was because I was so advanced that I went directly to first grade. It is just as likely that the people in charge wouldn’t let me in. That’s still up for debate depending on who you ask?
One thing I am sure of . . . Everything I need to know I learned from my Mom.
Mom did all of the teaching, and I just went along for the ride. I was home schooled 20 years before home schooling was even invented. Now days, my Dad is the one doing the riding.
My Mom was a bit different than Fulghum’s kindergarten teacher. As I recall, we skipped the lesson on playing fair. Mom taught me that, life is not always fair, and people don’t always share.
She told me there was one rule to live by and it was golden. “Treat others the way you want them to treat you,” she would say, regardless of whether they do the right thing or not.
Mom also said, “You can do & be anything you set your mind to. You are a winner. Work hard. Encourage others, honor your father, set an example for your little brother and sister, and tell the truth.”
I never recall her making me take a nap either. We were too busy visiting fabric stores and working in flower beds or vegetable gardens to have time for naps.
Looking back, I really have no regrets about missing out on kindergarten. Mom taught me to read, write, and do math a year before my first grade teacher, Mrs. Elrod ,ever got a hold of me.
I am so grateful to my first teacher, my mom. The woman who taught me, “There are two kinds of people in the world . . . Leaders & followers. You need to be a leader. The world needs good leaders.”
While I still fall short of mom’s work ethic, character, love, and resolve, it certainly is not because I lacked an example. She was, and still is, everything I could hope to be.
What is the best thing your mom ever taught you?
Randy is an author, speaker, executive coach, and the CEO of InteGREAT Leadership. He invests his time encouraging leaders around the world.