Friday, September 05, 2008

Five Things Meme: What I Wish Policymakers Knew About Kindergarten

The Science Goddess tagged me a month ago (I know, I know! A month? Thankfully she knows I've been back to school, in a new state, a new district, etc.) for a meme started by Nancy, Teacher in a Strange Land, addressing what educators wish policymakers understood about the public school system. Another teacher/blogger tagged me too but now I can't find her comment~ Let me know who you were so I can link back to you, pretty please?

Here' s my kindergarten perspective on Five Things Policy Makers Should Know About Kindergarten:

1) While preschool and early childhood programs usually offer wonderful and diverse hands-on play/learning/socialization experiences for children, requiring *testing* for three, four and five year olds to determine whether or not they're "ready" for kindergarten is ridiculous. What's next, IQ tests in utero via a two-way sonogram? Children get to be children. They're not "allowed" to come from diverse backgrounds, they DO come from diverse backgrounds. One-size-fits-all fits no one. Nothing like having to beat a dead horse.

2) Kindergarten teachers wish you would stop approving and paying architectural firms that offer a one-seat-toilet bathroom for girls and a one-seat-toilet for boys for a classroom of 12+ children...or TWO classrooms of children as their innovative design. Take teacher feedback seriously, and require that the architect go back and rethink the blueprint, please. The same goes for storage, cabinetry, and learning spaces. Ask...the...teachers.

3) Playtime IS learning. Authentic assessment is more relevant, accurate, and applicable than DIBELS scores could ever be. But authentic assessment doesn't create cool flow charts and numbers to crunch... I know, I know. You like number data. You like number data more than you like children apparently. Time for a change.

4) Kindergarten is NOT babysitting (though if you'd like to fund kindergarten teachers at the same rate a babysitter makes, I'd be more than happy to take that check).

5) Kindergarten entrance age requirements that vary from state to state don't tend to help children at all: they merely serve to 1) replace expensive day care costs for parents who are able to get their children in to a kindergarten program in one state for a week or two, then move to another state or district that is required to enroll the student since s/he was already in public school elsewhere, 2) feed the ego of parents who think that trying to teach their one year old to read is the way to make sure s/he is ahead of everyone else and 3) frighten parents with less material wealth than others into believing that they can't provide developmentally appropriate experiences for their children. Most children aren't ready for kindergarten at age four, though their parents ARE. Some children aren't ready when they're a "young five" when the school year starts. There is nothing wrong with being an "old five" starting kindergarten.

Kindergarten encompasses a certain stage in a child's development. It's a stage to experience, not a race to try to win.


Feel free to grab the meme and address it in your blog- let me know if you do!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:13 PM

    I think policymakers need to also know that learning is something that happens year-round, not just while kids are in school. My kids like the games at to learn math, reading and spelling in a fun way that they can do 12 months of the year. You raise excellent points! Great blog!

    :) Abigail


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