Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Kindergarten Question- Part 3

(Part 3 of a series. Click to read part 1 and part 2)

If you haven't been in a kindergarten class since you were the student, here is a glimpse into what a day looks like at our school:

8:00 Group 1 begins. (16 kids)
-Group learning time-This time is on the 'carpet' where the kids are expected to sit, not talk to or touch anyone, and follow what the teacher is doing. It could be calendar, counting, stories, words of the week, phonics decoding, or any other number of things.
-Tables- The children are split into 3 groups- 1 table is with the teacher for instruction, the other 2 are for various independent work- writing, coloring, alphabet or poem books, journals, etc. Sometimes these tables have helpers, other times not. The rotations are timed at about 20 minutes each.

9:40 Group 2 arrives (16 kids)
-More group learning time, directed drawing, journaling, singing. (Mostly trying to keep all 32 kids focused on one thing.)

11:00 Lunch

11:45 More Group time

12:05 Group 1 leaves, Group 2 begins table time, as above.

1:45 Group 2 leaves.

Also the kids get approximately 8 pages of homework per week (2 pages per day for Monday- Thursday, due on Friday), with a monthly reading chart, 20-25 books per month.

In my observation this year the youngest kids:

  • are the smallest
  • cannot sit and listen to the teacher for any given length of time, much less an extended period.
  • cannot keep their hands to themselves.
  • need almost constant 1 on 1 supervision to get the academic work done sufficiently.
  • are months behind what are considered basic kindergarten standards: alphabet, phonics decoding, counting, (some can only go as high as 30).
I recently found out that 5-7 of the kids in my son's class were recommended to stay in K next year. So far as I know, only 1 will be staying. I'm sad for these kids because they will probably have a hard time in an all day setting. I'm sad for the parents because there will be many struggles next year, in the classroom and at home. I'm sad for the first grade teachers that will have a bunch of kids that are not ready and will need a lot of hand holding to make it through. But I'm mostly sad for the kids that did the right thing this year and will have unprepared students in their classes and the teachers will be taking time away from them to catch the others up.

Two kindergarten posts left! Y'all come back, ya hear?!


Tracey said...

In NM the teacher can recommend retention, but the parent can say NO to that only once.

Headless Mom said...

Here, the parent can say no until second grade-the first 'mandatory retention' year.

Thanks for letting us know about NM!

Sam said...

I think I'd have to agree, 4 is too young for kindergarten.

I think they're also asking kindergarteners to do too much as related to "academics". I don't think having simple chores around the house is bad, but it seems that expecting "critical thinking" from a 5 year old is a bit much.

Some can handle it, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that I find the hardcore schooling that's creeping into kindergarten and preschool to be, well, stupid.

Steph said...

Oh my goodness. I'm just shaking my head here. I didn't realize there were so many people tossing their kids in to school so early, and for reasons that are NOT educational ones. I also did not realize that kindergarden is not the same as it was when I was little. We learned our stuff in Kindergarten...but you were 5, I want to tell you that you HAD to be 5, but I'm not positive.

A friend of mine has a 4 year old who will be going to Kindergarten this year, he does not want to go. He does not seem ready educationally to go, but she is putting him in anyway, I do think it's a mistake (for him) but it's not my place. *sigh*

I love the posts, though I'm really outta the loop! Very interesting.

Amy in Ohio said...

Why was it optional for the parents of the kids who aren't ready to move up? I don't get that, if they aren't prepared, why doesn't the school force the issue.

I've wondered how P will be in kindergarten since she goes to daycare, which is now clearly turning into a more preschool environment now that she is two. How will it be for her when she is moved to kindergarten and there are kids that haven't spent a single day in a preschool setting?

My friend's daughter skipped kindergarten completely (she is one of those kids that is freakishly smart and has fantastic social skills). She was tested and they warned her parents that she would be terribly bored with the curriculum.

I can see why - if the curriculum is set to the lowest common denominator, what chance did she have of being stimulated.

It seems terribly unfair to me that the parents were allowed to override the school's recommendation - but that's just my opinion.

Kim said...

In CA a parent can refuse to retain at any point. The school can never force a retention.

Jan said...

I thought you might want to here from a "been there, done that" parent. My youngest son (now aged 32) was a December birthday when Jan1 was the cut off. He is gifted and was reading at three so we put him in school at 4. The teacher loved him. He was bright and interesting and fun to talk to, but he didn't fit. She asked us to take him out and try again the next year. It was a better fit and then we took him home for 6 years to home school him. His sister who was 13 months younger started school a year early (Feb birthday) in the same kindergarten class as her brother and went through school with him. She also thrived. As adults they are both well adjusted and happy adults. One is a teacher and one a computer programmer. I felt like we made the best choices for our children.