One of my very first memories in life is my first day of 1st grade in my hometown of Hamburg, Germany (Kindergarten, despite its German name, is actually not a mandatory grade in Germany). Before my official “Einschulung,” or entry into school, I was mainly spending my days at home with my mom and my little brother. Like most of us, I don’t remember much about what I did on normal days in the years before school; I am sure I had fun. I do remember vividly, though, my first day at school.
The school had a flat roof and some older kids, to mark the occasion, were allowed on the roof to welcome us new kids. I had a 3-foot paper cone with me that included all sorts of school supplies as was tradition in Germany back then and probably still is. Mostly, though, I remember being completely and utterly terrified. I think I held back my tears until my parents left and then started bawling and crawling into a corner where I tried to hide from the teacher and the other kids for the rest of the day.
The reason, I strongly believe, is that for him, his first day at Kindergarten was just a simple switch from one building to another. Pre-K had allowed him to make friends, build social competencies, and gain a confidence entering new environments and interacting with others that I remember lacking for most of my elementary school years (and beyond, for that matter).
Bjorn Billhardt is the CEO of Abilitie, a business simulation firm for leadership talent development. Bjorn is also a member of the Board of Directors at Magellan International School, a Spanish Immersion, International Baccalaureate School serving 460 students in grades Pre-K3 – 8th. He and his wife Kirsten reside in Austin, TX and have three boys, all students at Magellan.
MIS Parent & Member, Board of Directors