Does “Retirement” Need an Oil Change?

Pre-school education relates to education for retirees. What, you ask? Yes, pre-school/kindergarten education is a lubricant for older ages, including education for the senior set.

You may know the book by minister Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I recalled this book recently when I was a monitor at a symposium for day-care home providers and preschool/kindergarten teachers. I have been on the planning committee for this annual event for many years. It is a joy to spend a day with early childhood caretakers and teachers who have hearts of immeasurable gold (despite their lack of much gold in paychecks).

What are the pearls of learning for both ends of the life spectrum? Check out Fulghum’s wisdom (pages 6-7):

“Most of what I really need to know about how to live — and what to do and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday school. These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush.”

“…live a balanced life. Learn some and think some. And draw and paint and sing and dance. And play and work every day some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic. Hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup—they all die. So do we. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned—the biggest word of all—LOOK. Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.”

Preschoolers initially need to learn to feel safe, find a sense of belonging, and explore their creativity. These are issues for individuals decades later in facing retirement years–feeling safe in one’s environment, sharing belongingness (with family, friends, and significant groups), as well as using precious time for exploring creative dreams.

I gave a talk at a public library recently where I found retirees who were eager to live lives of meaning but some felt stymied in reaching even basic goals. There is much loneliness and untapped talent among retirees.

The British government addressed social isolation in appointing its first Minister of Loneliness in 2018. Why is our ageist culture not more proactive in promoting purposeful retirement possibilities?

 Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz

165. How might you engage your creativity more?

166. What play and work do you choose every day?   

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.

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