Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal - or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I'll post a writing prompt that I hope will encourage you to open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation - just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you'll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you'll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you'll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.

My son knew the alphabet and could count to 20 well before his first day of kindergarten because I thought these milestones would be important indicators of his future success in the classroom. But I wondered if he was ready for the world outside the classroom - the world that involved lockers, urinals, and playground politics.

His teacher assured me he was: "He follows directions, respects authority and cooperates with others. Don't worry about the other stuff. It's my job to make sure he knows the alphabet and can count to 100."

I was a bit surprised about her response, but it echoes the results of two surveys sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics in the mid-1990s. Seventy-five percent of the teachers surveyed believed these attributes to be the top indicators of kindergarten readiness: "physically healthy, rested, and well nourished," "able to communicate his or her thoughts and needs in words," and "curious and enthusiastic in their approach to new activities." More than half of the teachers also noted these characteristics as important: "not disruptive," "sensitive to other children's feelings," and "able to take turns and share." Only 10 percent of respondents thought "can count to 20" and "knows the alphabet" were important. (For more information about kindergarten readiness, read this Preschool Policy Brief, published in 2005 by the National Institute for Early Education Research.)

My son did just fine in kindergarten, but it took me a few months to accept the change that occurred to my status. I was no longer the center of his universe. I didn't know the right way to draw the letter Y or sing the alphabet song, and I had no idea how important it was to be Super Achiever. Mrs. Mortensen was the expert, and I was "just the mom."


Journal Entry: Using the alphabet, create a list that describes the perfect kindergarten teacher (e.g. Affirming, Bubbly, Compassionate). Then, write about one specific event from your child's classroom or that you recall from your own kindergarten classroom. Reflect on the teacher and the role he/she played in the event.

Karna ConverseĀ is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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