Today's Kindergarteners: I Am Concerned

It's 1976. 
I am super excited to go to my Kindergarten class today! 

Mrs. House is the best teacher ever.
My friend Shelley and I sit next to each other in circle time as the class sings songs and talk about what is a good nutritious breakfast. (Mrs. House isn't too happy that I had a cup of coffee again today! I'm sure she will talk to mom again later!)

When mom picks me up from the bus stop, I share all about my day...
  • We learned about phonics and I quickly memorized the phonics circle.
  • We listened to Ferdinand the Bull. I laughed and laughed when he "sat on a bumblebee".
  • I played house during play station time and practiced "ironing".
  • At snack time, my friend Shelley and I turned our milk cartons into little boxes so we could collect things during recess.
  • Shelley and I played tag during recess until we couldn't run anymore, then we plopped down in the clover patch to search for four leaf clovers.
  • After recess, Mrs. House quizzed us on "F, F, for Freddy Fox" and sang "This Land is my Land" with the first grade class next door. 
  • We covered a paper with all different colors of crayons and then scribbled all over that paper with black crayon as hard as we could. Once is was black, we used a paper clip to scratch designs into our picture. I was so excited, I made two!
  • We worked on counting and did some fun worksheets. 
  • I couldn't believe it was time to go home again!

I loved kindergarten! (Here is an excellent article)
The play, the music, the glitter, the stories, the friends, the dancing, the pretending.
I turned out great. 
I loved school, so much in fact that I grew up to 'play school' at home full time (by homeschooling our five boys).
I fell in love with learning and exploring and music and art and people in kindergarten.

I am so concerned for today's kindergartners. 
My friend has a kindergartner who has a reading quota and is already placed in a remedial group because he does not read fast enough. Her class has to skip recess often in order to get more work done. She also has homework. At five years old.

Can I just say something here?

Childhood is fleeting. 
Learning is cultivated.

Creativity its is crushable.

Excitement for learning is perishable.

If we turn our culture's creative, daydreaming, dancing five year olds into frustrated, militant, quiet little soldiers who can sit at a desk for 5-6 hours a day, should we be surprised that obesity, depression, and anxiety will dominate their lives as teens and adults?

We need to allow children to return to childhood and delight in life again. 
I mean delight.
Let them pick clover, turn milk boxes inside out, spill glitter while making a picture for dad, play hopscotch, swing and swing, play hide and seek, share, sing, dance, and play.

Kids learn through play and role playing.

This is how children grow up to be creative, self-expressive, caring adults. 

They need to have the "time" to just be... No electronics, no homework (Please. Who gives homework to a child under the age of 10? What purpose does this work serve?)
Kids need to be outside, sometimes guided, sometimes just supervised so they don't kill themselves. But they need to be outside. Rain or shine. Snow or wind.

Kids need to color, cut, sing, dance, role play, rest, be read and read to, count by bouncing balls and keeping score, and laugh.
Learning is much easier when the child's basic needs are met.

Parents, we need to do something for the sake of our children and our future society. This is personal.
For my family, it is personal enough to pull my kids from the mainstream to school them at home. Where they run. Where they laugh. Where they read when they are developmentally ready. Where they play outside. Where they explore and experiment.

Today, in an hour and a half I am kicking my four youngest sons outside with play swords. They will play outside for an hour during the time of day that most American Kids will be scribbling on their desks and suffer from numb tushes. Yes, even the 16 year old. 


They are all smart, excellent students. Some are learning at a slower pace than their peers, but all are delighted to learn, read, discover and play.

Ask yourself if your young children are delighting in life. 
I'm not asking if they are busy, can win spelling bees, read at the age of three and solve algebraic algorithms by 6...but do they delight in life
Do they love stories and reading? (or being read to)
Do they enjoy their classrooms/learning environments? 
Are they nurtured by their educators?
Do they laugh and run and sing and dance?
Do they build, explore, and experiment?
Do they play contentedly?

I am concerned about today's kindergartners.
We need to stand up and stop accepting new "cultural norms" as normal and ok. They are not. Our kids, as a nation, are suffering.

Start looking around you. 
Find a handful of children who are delighting in life, are full of excitement, and are excited to learn. This might be a challenge, but you will see a few.
Then start talking to their parents and glean wisdom. 

The governing establishments do not have the answers. 

The parents of content, excited, kind, curious, enthusiastic learners have the answers... 
ask them!


Other thoughts:

(This post was inspired by a post I read somewhere on the Internet. If you recognize the flavor of this message and know the article, please let me know!)

7 comments:

  1. Oh, I could not agree more! My daughter goes to public school and they're already talking about putting her in remedial reading because she doesn't enjoy sitting there and doing worksheets. Wait, what? She's 6! We know that children, especially young children, learn best through play. So why has that not translated into the school system?

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    1. I don't know. I think we all need to stand up and say STOP!
      I know homeschooling is not for everyone, but childhood is for every child. We need to work together to make sure they get it...

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  2. Excellent article. Pre-K and Kindergarten teachers know what works best for young children. But the people in charge think they know better when they advocate reading and writing to kids who haven't learned to use scissors or how to hold a pencil.

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    1. In my mind it is equivalent to expecting a 12 year old to not only now how to drive, but navigate busy city streets and heavy traffic just so the people in charge can say "look at our young drivers...". Madness.

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  3. It's so true. Kids learn through exploring and creating. My oldest is blessed to be in JK at a school that focuses on these things. The students at her school score much higher on the provincial testing than students from the public and separate school boards, and I'm sure that this is why. Learning needs to be engaging and fun. I've read several studies that say that forcing children to learn to read and write when they are too young will actually cause them to fall behind later on! I completely agree with you that children need to play, use their imaginations and get outside!

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  4. I am concerned as well! I feel like public school is failing more and more kids, including kindergartners. Thank you for sharing this at the #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup!

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