Friday, September 04, 2009

Follow Up to "Off Day"

Here's a follow up blog post responding to comments:

Anon, ChiTown and Lori, you'll be glad to know I got a good night's sleep wearing those plaid flannel jammies last night! :) Thanks for your comments and commiseration. Anon, this is the second year ever that I've been teaching in a non-Title 1 school (twelve years teaching in Title 1 schools prior to that) and I have to say I was a bit relieved (yet still disappointed) when I realized that parents sitting in the middle to upper middle socioeconomic strata also had difficulties when it came to deciding when to send their children to kindergarten.

I've seen some awesome preschool programs, daycare centers, and Head Start instruction in the Title 1 districts in which I've taught prior, their existence necessitated by very specific needs: affordable child care, immersion into an English or bi-lingual environment for non-English speaking children, exposure to developmentally appropriate materials, literature, and socialization, and of course, school preparation. Unfortunately, not all preschool programs provide what children need, and to put it bluntly, neither do their parents. Most kindergarten teachers acknowledge this.

State legislators do not. School district officers rarely are able to be strong and accurate early childhood education advocates. Board policies and "best teaching practices" are aligned with state standards, they're NOT aligned with what four and five year olds can and should be faced with, which I believe is why even in my non-Title 1 teaching school, more and more remediation and "interventions" are having to be utilized with first, second, and third graders.

What would happen if those young, and especially TOO YOUNG kindergartners were kept out of kindergarten (and provided a quality preschool experience) for that extra year? If the boys were able to run off their energy, kick, jump and tackle for a bit longer, and girls were allowed to play princess, draw beautiful pictures, and sing karaoke in the bathroom to their heart's content? I acknowledge it's my ideal "dream kindergarten" scenario that isn't happening in many or most states and won't as long as our nation continues to buy the hype and sales pitch hook, line, and sinker: Your children only learn in school, and guess what, there are lots of nations out there who are creating superhumans to steal your child's future job! Quick, enroll now! Test now! Push, push, push, and make sure to hold those SCHOOLS accountable for everything!


I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!


  1. Anonymous10:49 AM

    I just read the book "The Trouble with Boys" about how parents and schools are doing a disservice to boys when they push them into an academic track too early. When boys (and girls) are in a play-based, movement-based preschool, boys are more successfully serviced, but parents still push for "worksheets." This early push for little learners who may not be ready is resulting in an achievement gap for girls and boys because boys are getting the message that school is not for them. Fewer men are enrolling in college, more boys are becoming disengaged and dropping out in high school.
    Thank you for speaking on this topic - you're so right! Parents need to know that they need to carefully judge their little one's readiness (especially little boy's) for an 'academic' environment - be it preschool or kindergarten. Let's NOT push them so early when they just aren't ready.

    K-4 librarian

  2. A sad post-script. While setting up our classrooms for the fall, I was moving in my newly-acquired puppet theater and noticed that a fellow kindergarten teacher was moving out her play kitchen. When I questioned her, she said "we don't have time to play in kindergarten!" I realize that I cannot change the system but I do have the opportunity to change the way that my 20 kinders experience kindergarten this year. So maybe this is not a sad postscript after all, but a hopeful one.


As always, thank you for your comments, tips, suggestions and questions!