About the Project

All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten

“All I really need to know, I learned in kindergarten” was just a cutesy saying for me until I actually spent a day with kindergarteners. Now I understand.

I visited the kindergarten class in order to generate ideas for the first phase of Reschool Yourself, to decide  what I’d like to do in my old classrooms. I spent the day observing and interacting with the kids, ages five and six. I cut a cardboard box into a stage for a puppet show, listened to a story, and watched the kids practice movement and dance. I agreed to play tag at recess, and only then was informed that I was “always it.” As I chased the kids around the jungle gym, they joyfully teased me by sticking out their tongues and taunting me with singsongs of “Nanny nanny, foo foo.”

The day’s activities began with Kid Writing, a time for students to draw pictures in their personal journals and practice writing about them.

Max 2“Do you have a kid journal?” a boy named Max asked me. I told him that I didn’t.

“I’ll make you one,” he said.

He disappeared and then returned within a few minutes, presenting me with a paper booklet neatly stapled down the side. He had trimmed the side of the page “to make it look nice” and had printed the words, “Melia AND THE” on the fluorescent pink cover.

“Melia and the what?” I asked him.

“That’s up to you,” he said.

I raised my eyebrows, impressed by this 6-year-old sage. “Hmm, I’m not sure how to finish that,” I said. “I’ll have to think about it.”

Max looked me straight in the eye. “Sometimes it’s good to just do what you want to do,” he told me. “Sometimes that’s the best thing.”

I told Max that this was such great advice that I would write it down. I printed his words in oil pastel inside my new journal, on the paper with dotted lines for handwriting practice. When I showed him his own words on the page, he said, “This will be on the first page to remind you, for life.” This kid was a regular Yoda. I wished I could shrink him down to pocket-size and carry him around with me—my own insightful little Pez dispenser.


I could have an itinerary, but I don’t want to

People have been asking me what my year of reschooling will look like: how long I plan to spend in my old classrooms, where I plan to go during my travels, what I plan to do when I get to each location. I haven’t known what to say, and the question has begun to stress me out. Until now, I had been planning from a practical standpoint: I would spend a few days in each grade at my old schools from August to December, then travel from January to June with a pre-determined itinerary. This plan made sense — I could find a place to stay and make arrangements for the learning opportunities in each location, well in advance of my arrival. But making a schedule seemed arbitrary and limiting.

I have been basing these plans on what makes practical sense, or what I think I should do, rather than what I really want to do. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less sure of what it is that I want to do. I have so lost touch with my own intuition that making even the smallest decision becomes a cosmic crisis. Should I wear the black skirt or the jeans? Should I go jogging or lift weights? In line at Tartine Bakery, I nearly hyperventilate when faced with all my options — should I order the almond croissant or the chocolate? Or the bread pudding? My life is so hard!