Beau January 23rd, 2007
Kindergarten isn’t what it used to be… that is probably an understatement. I have few memories of my kindergarten experience, other than naps, playtime and snacks for a few hours a day. I must have been deprived!
Not any more… these days schools have robust and vibrant kindergarten programs to capitalize on the creative, intellectual and physical growth of children at an early age. Many programs differ among communities, but they share the common goals to help increase readiness for later educational attainment. Sometimes however, in our zeal to help our children grow and “be whatever they want to be,” I think educators and administrators are too focused on metrics, standards and programmatic curricula.
I am not taking anything away from our local school and teachers- they are wonderful. The learning environment is rich and the experience and social development our child receives is so important. He looks forward to going to school, loves his teacher and is learning everyday- what parent could ask for more? Well, how about sometimes… less? Within the rich learning environment of today’s kindergarten programs are assessments, tests and quizes, and a day to make any high school student exhausted. He is up at 6:00 to make the 6:50 bus, a 45-minute ride to school, then a myriad of classes to include recess, music and PE, and then back on the bus to arrive home at 3:20 (if the bus is on time.) For a 6-year old, an 8 and 1/2 hour day is a lot! I wonder if there is a national “norm” for what is expected from kindergarten, or the length of the school day at an early age? We are asking much of our children to expect attentive concentration and academic performance that only a few years ago was part of a 1st or 2nd grade curriculum.
But now is not then, and these children will be challenged to learn much as they grow and develop in our society. Be that as it may, we are wise to remember how much we ask of them. Driving to school is one method to shorten the day, and I am fortunate to be able to do so. He loves riding the bus, but sometimes when he seems a little tired, or the morning rush is simply not worth it, we slow down a bit- add 45 minutes to the day and ride together enjoying the morning. Today we shared a sunrise as he sang and pointed out the sights of the countryside. After school? He’s off to swimming lessons…
“Today… is gold that covers hills and dell, and rich are they who use it well. (Pearl Phillips)”