Preacher’s Point: The first grade


I had the wonderful pleasure of going with two of my granddaughters on a field trip today. They are twins and are in the first grade. The day was a delight from beginning to end, and it brought back so many memories and comparisons.

I am 50 years older, so it must be 50 years since I was in the first grade. Things are a bit different.

I could not have just shown up and went on the trip today. I needed to submit my name in advance for the completion of a background check. I never remember my mom ever talking about her needing a background check before going on my class field trips.

At the beginning of school, we said the pledge to the American flag. Saying the pledge made this Papa proud. I don’t remember saying the pledge every day after second grade. I hope the kids keep it up until graduation.

After the pledge to the flag, they said another, “pledge.” This “pledge,” as the teacher called it, said phrases like, “I will be good.” ” I can do all things when I work hard.”

Their little sayings reminded me of what my granddaughters needed to know when they went to kindergarten and what was expected of my generation. My grandchildren needed to have memorized their ABCs and how to tie their shoes before beginning school.

I learned both of those in kindergarten. It was the things of this “pledge” we needed to know when we started school. We needed to know how not to lie, cheat or steal. We needed to know that punching another kid was wrong and that throwing a tantrum was not going to do you any good. We were expected to understand already we were to share toys and playground equipment. The school was for learning math, history, and the like; the local playground a block or two from the house was for learning how to play and other social skills. However, in the last 50 years, the neighborhood playgrounds don’t have the joy of laughing and playing children as they used to. Maybe because of the same reasons a parent or grandparent needs a background check to attend a field trip.

The field trip took us to a local college that has an equestrian division. The children loved being around the horses, brushing them and leading them on a short walk. It would have been nice to see the kids sit on a horse, but I reckon some insurance company somewhere had the final say on that one. Ya know, I don’t hear adults say, “Let the kids be kids” like they did when I was in the first grade.

At snack time, the children received fruit snacks and water. I don’t ever remember having snack time back in the day. I do remember taking naps at school in kindergarten and first grade. They don’t do that anymore.

Times have changed, but I wonder how much they changed between my grandparents and me. From 1917 to 1967; must have been a huge difference from the one-room schoolhouse to the elementary schools of the sixties.

America had kicked the Bible out of schools before I came along in the mid-sixties, but there are words in it about teaching children we should never forget.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Isaiah 28:9, “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.”

Take your kids and grandkids to the playground, go on their field trips, take them for ice cream, let them be kids, but most important of all, with all these things train them up in the way they should go.

By Timothy Johnson

Preacher’s Point

Preacher Johnson is pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County Indiana. Email: [email protected]. Website: E-book: If you email, inform me where you have seen Preacher’s Point. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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