Kindergarten… The new first grade is certainly a reality. The acceleration of the curriculum began slowly and now seems to be on fast forward. I sometimes ask myself what the previous (now retired) Kindergarten teachers in our district would think about our Kindergarten day now. I think they would be incredulous!
The author claims that 15 years ago, first grade was the place to learn about letters and Kindergarten was only a place for social and emotional development. I did not find that to be true in Somers Point. Even 20 years ago when I started teaching Kindergarten we have always worked on letter recognition,letter sounds, science, math and big themes that were integrated across the curriculum. Most students came in not knowing how to write their names, hold a pencil, use scissors, how to act in a classroom and many were sobbing in my arms as I encouraged their crying parents to leave. With pre K a reality for so many little ones, more and more children come in knowing so MUCH more then they used to (Christie has it ALL wrong…Pre K is NOT babysitting!) But even so… we must be mindful not to push to much down the grades. I think we all see it… and worry.
When the author spoke of redshirting… also referred to as the “Graying of Kindergarten” (as in hair color) I could picture a number of children who fit that bill and most of them were boys. Academics, social skills and future athletic careers are issues the parents thought about when they made the decision to hold out their child and let them start a year later. When Somers Point went to full day Kindergarten about 10 years ago the Kindergarten teams at both schools were hopeful we would change the starting/entrance age to 5 by September 1st as opposed to October 1st, so all the children would be at least 5 years of age when they entered. We knew that early September children/ young Kindergartners might have a hard time. Maybe it might be time to revisit the age/date requirement issue. I also think the idea of a Pre-1st or developmental 1st grade is also a great idea. Instead of pushing kids (boys primarily) onto first grade when they aren’t ready, they can still be promoted to the next level… their level!!!
Kindergarten the new first grade certainly spoke to things that have been bothering me for quite some time. It seems so many people are in a big hurry to have kids grow up and i think the state is at the top of the list. I found the book to be very interesting as it gave a voice to many things that I have believed for a long time as I have seen the changes that the author talks about in the book. So much change and not all of it for the better. I really think this book should be required reading for people who are planning to teach especially in the lower grades.
I found this chapter to be very interesting and upsetting at the same time. I was shocked to read that the curriculum we have in place, nationally, was once considered standard for 2nd or 3rd grade. Although I have only been teaching for a short time, I have already seen the frustrations that young children are experiencing first hand. So much pressure and stress is put on young children between the curriculum and testing expectations making it very difficult to give them the opportunities to experiment and learn independently through experiences.
I am not an advocate of testing, and therefore completely support the segment where the principal stated that testing does not measure diligence, creativity, or potential. When I was a student, from a young age through college, I learned that I was not a test-taker. I thrived on alternative assignments such as projects and face-to-face interactions. Because of the expectations of test-driven results, I find it difficult for students to truly show who they are and what they understand. As a Special Ed. teacher, I especially see how difficult it is for my students to successfully complete tests. I think it is essential to give kids the chance to show their understanding and potential through other assignments, which I know can be extremely hard to add on to the other responsibilities we have as teachers. However, regardless of how unfair I believe testing it, it is a reality of what students must face today in schools. I think it would be a great idea if we had the opportunity to explicitly teach children test-taking skills to help them better prepare for what they must endure.