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Mekhi Rutherford, 6

  • Birthday: May 9
  • Ellen Fairclough Public School, Markham
  • SK, full-day program

Quoted: "I wish I went into high school now."

Early childhood experts sometimes use puppets to interview kindergarten-aged children because it helps put them at ease, and enables them to open up about their experiences. The method generally works well, except with Mekhi Rutherford, who named his puppet Kevin Eleven and made him prone to fits of narcolepsy.

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The mid-interview naps offered insight into Mekhi's budding sense of humour, and social development. In his senior kindergarten year at Ellen Fairclough Public School in Markham, Mekhi, now 6, began using and manipulating words such as 'think,' 'feel' and 'trick' to make the people around him laugh.

These words demonstrate theory of mind, and metacognitive awareness, or Mekhi's understanding of his own mind and that of others. That ability often emerges in kindergarten-aged children.

Familiarity also helped Mekhi take on a leadership role: When asked to take photographs of the five most important things in his classroom, Mekhi snapped pictures of the washroom door and a garbage bucket. His reasoning was that washing your hands and cleaning up after yourself are important activities for students.

"It's coming from that rich environment I think that he's in all day," said his mother, Claudette Rutherford.

She compares Mekhi's development last year, when he attended junior kindergarten with the same teacher part-time, to this year, and says there's no question that he benefited from the full-day's consistency and reinforcement.

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