M.A. DOUGLAS – The Kindergarten

A most happy place! Miss Falwasser settled that with herself thirty years ago, just before she left the Godolphin School, for it was then discovered that a place in the Kindergarten was what she coveted, and there she went for “part time” under Miss Milles, and there she is still, and for close on twenty years she has been the Head of that happy little school, succeeding other ardent lovers of children-Miss Malpas (Mrs. Pope) and Miss Tucker.

It is packed with interest and cheerfulness, because each small person in it is packed with the same from head to heels, and each one presents a different variety. There are all the little boys ! This one is staid and solemn, that one is quick as silver, and both are equally interesting and full of unknown possibilities. If we prophesy that the first will become Lord Chancellor and the other will one day “put a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes,” the chances are we shall find ourselves mistaken. There are the jolly, confiding little girls, but, for the matter of that, all little boys and girls are confiding at six years old-given a companion who is acceptable to them-but all depends upon that. If you play games with them, you must truly love the game as much as they do, and play it with all your soul as well as your legs.

Little children are naturally simple, direct, and sincere, and, if you watch them, you will see them putting their whole selves into their painting, modelling or toy-making; when they pause it may be they will make an earnest appeal that you will look at their work, whatever it looks like, and all of it is interesting because it is sincere, and some of it is very clever. It is delightful, too, to see them putting their wits to other matters: letters, numbers, poetry, “attention” at drill, cleverness at games. And whatever game is being played, whatever work they are doing, the little children are having the care and the training which helps to set their feet on the straight road. It is the future of each child which is never far from the mind and heart of anyone who has the right to choose to be a Kindergarten teacher.

How can I record vividly enough the Kindergarten parties? I give up trying to describe the lovely-truly lovely-plays acted by the children in the School Hall. Charming figures, groups and animated scenes arc jumbled up in my memory, but I must ask the readers to recall their own delight when they were spectators of this first event of the evening. I can, however, set down more clearly a picture of the dining-room. I can see the children, with their eyes even brighter than usual, their cheeks either scarlet or pink with excitement, and their smiles all over their dear faces, as they march round the long tea-table, lit with countless tiny candles, and where every cake has a little Japanese umbrella or flag stuck in it by “Miss Lucy,” who has also scattered little toys in between.

After tea, dancing in the Hall; only those who are not more than three years old are jigged about amongst the others, or are content to watch. I remember two little girls of three, both particularly beautiful; the one is in a white frock and has dark eyes, and is being carried by her mother round a Christmas tree, I think, on that occasion; the other is very fair, with blue eyes and lovely curls and pink cheeks, and is in a blue frock with a low neck and short sleeves, and is in charge of her beloved old nurse, who has been in the family for two generations. I will not reveal their names, but perhaps they will recognise themselves!

Little children’s funny sayings are known to every mother, and they are funny to those who hear them, but not to the children themselves, their minds not being cumbered with dates or by considerations of etiquette. For instance, when we all lined up to receive Lord Methuen on the great occasion of his first visit to the School, a tiny Kindergarten boy, who was clapping for all he was worth with the rest of us, said afterwards, he thought we were clapping St. Matthew. Another little boy was asked by Mrs. Wordsworth if he would like to come to a party she was giving at the palace. He replied by putting a solemn question to her: ” Will there be umbrellas on the cakes?”

I have recalled some old Kindergarten episodes, but if you visit it to-day you will find Miss Falwasser still there and the rooms full of little boys and girls, and anyone of them will be delighted to tell you of the last big Christmas party in the School Hall.




Christmas Carol.

O Birthday Child most holy!

We other children come:

To worship Thee, and bring Thee

Our hearts to be Thy home.

God gives His Child to children,

To be their very own,

And have Him as a Leader,

And set Him on a throne.

They look at Him and worship,

And tell Him everything

He understands their secrets,

Although He is a King,

He is their dear Companion

In all that He approves;

He is their strong, kind Helper

To do the things He loves.

The best day of the whole year

Is Christmas Day, His fete.

It is Commemoration

Of all things high and great.

The greatness of the Godhead

Comes down from Heaven’s height.

And yet a Child with children

The foremost Child of Light.

We bring Him Love and Duty,

The gifts He holds most dear.

This Child-King in His beauty,

We greet Him year by year,

In the Stable with the Shepherds,

His Mother holding Him;

Whilst Gloria in Excelsis

Is sung by Seraphim.


Christmas Tree Verse.

Children love to see the Tree

Decked with light so fittingly

For the Birthday of the King

Who was born true Light to bring;

Light in darkness, Star in night,

Holy Child with halo bright

­All His Life of thirty years

Shone with Light-at times thro’ tears –

Then another Tree we see

Lit with Love for you and me.


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