Ok, I admit it. I spent eight years in kindergarten.
No, I didn’t fail and need to repeat it seven more times. I passed kindergarten the first time.
Right out of college, I started my adult career teaching full day kindergarten for several years. There’s nothing like being responsible for twenty-five five-year olds for eight hours a day. Go ahead and try it. I dare you!
Actually, I loved it and would do it again in a heartbeat if it paid more money. Every Fall, I yearn for the sights, smells and sounds of the beginning school year.
Then I remind myself that I needed two additional jobs to make ends meet. I taught kindergarten in the day, drop-out high school students at night, and held various weekend and summer jobs.
After nearly a decade of teaching, I took a salary increase and moved to the nonprofit world planning education, events and meetings. It’s also when I worked on my master’s degree in adult education.
Here are 15 tips I learned about social media while in kindergarten.
1. Sharing with each other is a good thing.
Playing with a new toy or game alone is boring. Sharing that toy with others is more fun.
Likewise, sharing great blog posts, meeting experiences, recipes for success, tips, videos and other content via social networks is a good thing.
2. Storytelling captures our attention.
What a great feeling of excitement, awe and contentment sitting on the floor listening to the teacher read a good book. Stories captivate us. We identify with the characters. We feel their emotions. We get lost in the plot.
In social media, storytelling captures more attention than crafting the right message.
3. Look, one of the first words we learned in Dick and Jane books, is critical to learning.
If you didn’t read the Dick and Jane books, you still learned to look at something and explore it. In kindergarten, I often brought in objects and asked students to look at them from many angles. I asked them to describe an object using as many, different, unusual words as possible. Looking with all the senses is important. It is how we learn.
Look and watch other successful social media users. Observe what they do. Watch how they blog, communicate, comment, share, Tweet and connect with others. Then mimic it. Don’t copy everything they say or write, but mimic their methods.
As five-year olds we were taught to listen. We listened to the sounds around us, to our parents, elders, teachers, siblings and each other. If we didn’t listen to our kindergarten teacher, we might miss important instructions or a surprise.
In social media, learn to listen first. Then respond. Listen to your customers and potential customers before broadcasting messages. Listening means sometimes asking questions and listening to replies.
5. Talking with each other is fun.
As kindergarteners, we loved to talk with each other. We would talk about our clothes, TV shows, lunch, games, our siblings and friends. Having to sit silently in a desk, in a row for eight hours a day was torture. Actually, it goes against the very nature of a five-year old–and an adult as well.
The really good kindergarten teachers gave their five-year olds something to talk about. They helped spark discussions about new things. They helped focus conversations on new learnings. Instead of shutting down the talk, they invited and led it.
In social media, conversations are critical to success. Don’t just be a monologue. Be a social media conversation sparker, engaging with others in important conversations.
6. Uniqueness is celebrated.
In kindergarten, we celebrated all the diverse holidays and cultures. We didn’t leave anyone out. We learned about each other’s special customs and traditions. We celebrated our differences.
In social media, uniqueness stands out. Repeating the same social media message over and over again gets lost in the noise. Be different and unique.
7. Travel in groups and hold hands.
In kindergarten when we went on a fieldtrip, we held hands and stuck together. We had buddies. We learned that we need each other.
Social media encourages community-building. Encourage community around your brand, your organization and your services. Help others find their community and niche groups in the social media networking platforms. Be a social media buddy.
8. Show-n-tell is a highlight.
Remember show-n-tell? When everyone was in awe of whatever you brought to class? Sure, sometimes someone said “I’ve got one of those?” Or,” I’ve done that.” Yet, good kindergarten teachers helped facilitate discussions so that even common everyday items brought in for show-n-tell had a new sense of awe.
In social media, make old, common things seem fresh and new again. Show-n-tell on your blog. Share your perspectives and views.
9. Change is the constant.
In kindergarten we learned that the sun comes up every morning and how to say Goodnight Moon. We learned that each day was new and never repeated itself. We discussed how the weather changes each day and some of the patterns that occur. We learned that people come and go. Some friends move away and new ones move to the neighborhood.
In social media, change is the constant. It’s not about the social media tools as they come and go. It’s about the communication and engagement patterns with others.
10. Opinions count.
Five years olds often learn to respect and listen to other people’s opinions. And while they may make a quick judgment about something, they usually don’t make fun of others who disagree with them…unless they are bullies. They will say ooo, yea or yuck out loud quickly. They don’t mean any harm. They just speak their mind at the moment.
In social media, invite others to share their opinions, even when you disagree with them. Learn to disagree without being disagreeable.
11. Sticks and stones may break my bones and words can bruise my soul.
Choose your words with care and respect. ‘Nough said.
12. Some games have a set of accepted practices and rules.
Unless everyone agrees, you can’t change the rules of dodge ball or hide-n-seek. Sure you can make up games and create your own rules. But not everyone likes to play by those rules.
Yes, there is a set of accepted practices and social norms to follow in social media. For example, being self-promotional all of the time is frowned upon. Learn a good balance of sales and self-promotion with being seen as a resource and helpful.
13. Wonder is, well, wonderful.
Curiosity as a child is welcomed, expected and encouraged.
In social media, reclaim that childhood curiosity and explore different social media tools and platforms. Experiment and try new things for yourself.
14. Be a good sport!
Learn to play fair. Own up to mistakes and say “I’m sorry.”
In social media, if you say something in that is interpreted differently than you intended, own up to your mistake and apologize. You’ll get more respect.
15. Take a nap every day.
Yawn, is it time to unroll my mat yet?
Take intentional breaks from the 24-7 social media stream each day. Step back, reflect and enjoy the quiet. Balance is key. Remember, your friends are in your pocket on your mobile device just a click away.
What tips did you learn as a child that apply to social media today? Share yours with us.
Kevin Richardson says
There’s a great song by John McCutcheon “Kindergarten Wall” that this post reminds me of. The last line of the song has always stuck with me and I think is worthy of addition to your list, “remember the seed in the little paper cup. First the root grows down and then the plant grows up.”. Message: focus on building relationships, put the work into helping others and delivering on promises. The fruit yielded will be worth more than the work put into the process. Now I’m stopping for some graham crackers and milk.
Calum Maclean says
Jeff, you crack me up. I read the title and started laughing.
My kindergarden experience left me curious about everything, especially how people and things work.
I remember doing the exercise you mentioned getting the kids to look at an object from different angles.
I am sure it is one of the reasons that I love to look at a problem and find a way to solve it that is practical and if possible lots of fun.
Margie Lutz says
@Jeff Great tips, you helped prepare my mind for the upcoming Vacation bible school kindergarten class I will be teaching themed Genesis 1: Space Probe.
Jeff Hurt says
Love that analogy of focusing on the seed of relationships which yields a great harvest. Thanks for adding that.
Ah, problem solving at it’s best. Yes, if we would only approach all our problems with that child-like curiosit and allow ourselves to do trial-and error. Failing is actually part of the learning process.
Ooo, sounds like a lot of fun for that kindergarten group – Space Probe. Love it! Thanks for reading and adding your comments too.
This might be covered in your point about community building, but it may also be worthy of its own point: It’s not all about me (I’m not the center of the universe). The more I can build up others (and share their content/projects/opinions), the better it is for all of us.
Good read, thanks!
Howard Jess says
Just remember, though … for sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. … you are not a customer. You’re inventory.
Michael McCurry says
Great article … brought back some good memories.
One of my favorite things was to play “Jump the Sticks” … do you remember that game?
That game was all about stretching yourself literally, and going beyond where you thought you could go. Loved it!
Thanks for writing this article … great stuff!
Barbara Palmer says
Love this post, Jeff. Maybe you could develop a “Remedial Kindergarten” course, complete with fingerpainting. The post reminded me how much we all want to be part of a group, and what joy there is in learning new things, both of which social media encourages.
Thanks for reminding me how happy I was when we went to the “Story Corner” with our copies of the Weekly Reader. I just checked and, of course, there is a Weekly Reader blog.
Jeff Hurt says
Great point about everything not revolving around me as the center of the universe. (Althought to this day, my sister still thinks she is the center of the universe. wink, wink) Thanks for adding to the discussion.
Your point made me laugh out loud. So true.
Beautiful point about stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone. Yep, I remember playing jump the sticks too. Thank you for reminding me.
Great idea, a “remedial kindergarten” course. When I was at PPAI, I planned an annual creativity course. It was the closest thing I have ever done to remedial kindergarten. Oh, and the Weekly Readers! Here’s a shout out to those fun reading times. Thanks for sharing those.
JR Rhodes says
What fun! What I enjoyed most about this is how you hold focus on connection and in such a playful way through kindergarten innocence that brings back those days of cubby holes and naps and milk and cookies and recess. Thanks for the reminder that playful, respectful connectedness is where it’s at.
Suzanne McDonald says
Gave a social media talk to a professional women’s group today, whose experience varied from great successes to terrified!
One thing that everyone could understand: “Social media has all the nice kids from the playground: Even though you can’t see them in person you should visualize that they are right in front of you and act accordingly.”
Love this post, and I’ll be sure to send the link along with my notes from the talk.
Jeff Hurt says
@Suzanne. I really like your addition that social media has the nice kids from the playground. Thanks for adding it.
Leo Widrich says
Jeff, what a brilliant article!
Especially number 9 and 14. The constant is openmindedness and that you care about the conversations and people and not the tools, really well put!
Also love the “be a good sport” one, Social Media makes it very easy to apologise and if mistakes are committed admitting them and sorting it out is very much the only and best solution.
Again, thanks a for a great post, let me throw it in my Buffer! 🙂
Jeff Hurt says
Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing. Appreciate it much!