Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?
They say you can’t go back.
What do you think?
I remember walking into P.S. 199 as a student teacher. I had attended this elementary school as a ten-year old sixth grader…now I was 20 years old and a senior in college, pursuing my early childhood education degree. How small the double wooden entrance doors looked now! How tiny the seats in the classroom seemed!
It didn’t seem to be the same school that I had stored away in my memory banks.
Since January, I’ve been presenting the SHOW-ME-HOW Story-time Reading and Crafting Program to District 11 kindergartens and Pre-K’s. It is really great to be back in the classroom, interacting with students and teachers and parents.
But today’s kindergartens don’t seem to be the same as those stored away in my memory banks.
Why do I say that?
- When I was teaching kindergarten (back in the 60’s and 70’s), the children learned through play and there was very little “formal” instruction. In today’s kindergartens, I see a lot of “formal” teaching of reading and writing…not just the ABC’s.
- When I was teaching, kindergarten was a preparation for first grade. In today’s kindergartens, there seems to be an expectation that the children will be reading and writing by the time they enter first grade.
- When I was teaching kindergarten, we understood that children mature in their own unique ways…while it is true that some 4½ year olds are quite capable of learning to read and write (I had several who came to kindergarten already reading and writing and speaking several languages), it is also true that many children have not yet developed the fine motor skills necessary for holding the pencil and mapping out the letters. With reading, we have the same situation…some children have the eye-brain coordination, but some need just a little more time to physically mature.
- In my opinion, the only advantage to “pushing” these little ones to read and write is that, if there are problems such as visual impairment or learning disorders, they may be discovered at this earlier age and intervention can be arranged. However, the down side is that we are already labeling these young children…and often these labels stick, even if it was just a maturity issue that was the cause.
- Almost every kindergarten teacher I have visited with has mentioned the lack of time to READ picture books to the children. Arts and crafts are also an area that is pushed to the back burner. Now, all of you know how passionate I am about reading to young children…and how much I believe in the importance of encouraging children to express themselves in arts and crafts activities. I realize that the curriculum and standards are mandated by the state…teachers don’t really have control over those things and are held accountable for the levels of learning their students achieve.
- The almost frantic pace I observed in some of the kindergartens was even stressful for me…imagine how it must be for five-year olds! They change activities (and rooms) as if someone is surfing channels on the TV with a remote control. Perhaps they are used to it…having been exposed to the constant mini-bytes that are prevalent even on the educational TV channels. Again, I undertand that most of kindergarten teachers would probably prefer to go back to a “kinder, gentler” type of classroom. Don’t get me wrong…I do believe in routines and schedules for young children…I think they thrive when they know what the plan is…I just wish it was a less hectic plan. I know it used to be in the kindergartens stored in my memory banks.
What do you think? Do you have a child in kindergarten? Are you a kindergarten teacher? Do you agree that the kindergarten of today is the new first grade? And, do you think this is a postive or negative change?
THREE IMPORTANT REMINDERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
TODAY, APRIL 9th, is the LAST day you can purchase SHOW ME HOW! at 50% off the cover price on my website: http://www.positiveparentalparticipation.com. Parents, grandparents, teachers and daycare providers of preschoolers…please don’t delay…this unique resource is a shortcut to providing educational fun-filled self-esteem building acitivities for your children. MOTHER’S DAY is just around the corner…what a wonderful gift this would make, even for an expectant mom! And this is also the last day to enter to win the collection of craft supplies for your preschooler…purchase a book or fill out the contact form on my website or leave a comment on my blog about why you would like to win the prize.
TOMORROW: Sunday, April 10th…I will be at the Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument, CO from 2-3:30pm, talking about reading, crafting and cooking with young children and signing copies of my book. For more details, please go to www.coveredtreasures.com or call 719-481-2665. The Book Fair (from 12:30-4pm) is for the benefit of the Tri-Lakes Community Preschool Tuition Assistance Program. If you are local to Monument, Colorado Springs or Denver, please head on over to say hello and do your part to support early childhood education!
Tuesday, April 12th…I will be hosting Max the Dog as he continues his 36 day book blog tour. For more details about the on-going contest and to see where he has been and where he is going, please visit: http://readwithmax.com/blogbooktour.html
Posted on April 9, 2011, in children, children's picture books, crafting, Daycare Providers, families, Homeschooling, parenting, Positive Parental Participation, Preschool Teachers, preschoolers, reading to preschoolers, school visits, stay at home moms, Teachers, Uncategorized and tagged children, children's picture books, Early childhood education, Education, families, First grade, Kindergarten, Literacy, Monument Colorado, parenting, Positive Parental Participation, Pre-kindergarten, READING WITH CHILDREN. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.