Monday, June 16, 2008

The Kindergarten Question- Part 6- The Finale, Finally!

If you're just joining me, I invite you to read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5.

In the current education environment kindergarten has become an extremely important year. It certainly sets the tone for the primary years of elementary school. When children learn the basics of being in a classroom, listening, sharing, taking turns, and following direction, we can set them up for success in the classroom for years to come.

Holding kids back for sports should not be an option. I believe it sets the wrong tone for education- competitive sports should be secondary to academic development and the love of learning.

Meandmom brought up a good point in the comments on Part 4:
I'm sure you probably didn't intend to grossly over-generalize when you commented that those kids with no in-class support have no support at home with homework either. But I just got to represent my peeps - the working moms. It pains me that I am no longer able to volunteer regularly in the classroom due to a full time work schedule (a necessity when I got divorced). I do take time though, in the precious 3 hours between 6 and 9pm when I get to do all my mothering, to go over every stitch of homework that the kids did after school with the nanny that plays me while I'm at work.
I in no way meant to imply that parents who can't work in the classroom will be 'doomed' to have children that won't succeed. I truly applaud all that she does as a single parent- goodness knows that I probably couldn't do it. As she pointed out, she (and millions of others I'm sure) works with her children nightly. THAT is what I haven't seen in many of the situations I have been speaking of. It is obvious, when looking at a child's homework packet and classroom behavior whether they have a parent helping and guiding them at home. Whatever your home/work situation, there are ways to make your child understand that learning is important. Reviewing homework on a daily/weekly basis, reading together, and having your child show you his/her classwork are some of the ways to connect with them and convey your interest in their education. Problems can also be addressed and usually minimized when caught early.

If you are the parent of a pre-school age child I urge you to check into the regulations in your state. (Each state department of education will have information available online.) Look at the entrance age for kindergarten. Look at the kindergarten standards. Call your local elementary school and ask for a list of skills that children are expected to have upon entering kindergarten. Doing this can ensure that you are making an informed decision for the education of your child.

Once in school, I believe that listening to your child's teacher is so important. Natalie said it best in the comments on Part 3:
when i suggested that 2 of the kids stay back in my class i was met with hesitation from the parents, but i had a great principal who supported me and helped to convince the parents. i know it was the best thing for the kids. they would have been totally lost in first grade and would have ended up failing. i was the only kindergarten teacher in my school so the kids who were held back thought the reason they got to be in my class again was because i liked them so much. worked out well for them!
If your child's teacher suggests retention I recommend listening to the teacher. They are with your child all day- they see and hear how they interact with other children, they work with and test your child on important skills, they know what is expected the next year. Kindergarten teachers love your children and truly want them to succeed in school and have a passion for learning. If starting your child a year later, or if choosing to keep your child in K for one more year can give them the time they need to be truly ready for school, wouldn't you want to give them every opportunity to do well?

I know that each child is different. My children did well in most areas of kindergarten. I know of a few other kids that sailed through K as a 4 year old. I now know of many that should be staying in kindergarten for one more year. In the end, starting 4 year olds in kindergarten seems to be a bad idea. I think Dotty (Sorry! I couldn't find a link for Dotty.) said it best:
Why is everyone in such a hurry to push those little darlings out the door?


Thanks to all of you who have been reading and commenting. I really feel strongly about this and it seems that many of you do too!

And many thanks to Liz for sparking the subject in my mind.


Tracey said...

Great series!!! I am an elementary school teacher (year round school) and so many kids come to school not knowing their numbers, letters, mom and dad's REAL names, address etc....COME ON PARENTS WE NEED YOUR HELP!!

Headless Mom said...

Thanks, Tracey.

Kelly said...

I've been reading in a reader so commenting is now limited to time and motivation, but I have waited until the end of your series to comment. I have many views on this topic...
1. I started Kindergarten at 4 (in private school) and was the 2nd youngest in our graduating class. The youngest was one of our valdictorian's. That said, I don't think academically I was left in the dust, but it was HARD when everyone else got their driver's licenses, everyone else got to drink 3.2 beer and then at 21 everyone else got to legally drink for the SECOND time. That might well be why I am not much of a drinker to this day. I spent A LOT of time cleaning up after everyone else and driving everyone home!!

My son is a July bday and the cut off here is August. He is one of the young ones. We started him in school not interested in alphabets or reading, but socially he has always been way ahead of the crowd. He is also a BIG kid. Going into 4th grade he is one of the bigger kids in class. He'd be a FREAK if he were going into 3rd right now. He has one friend who is 10 (my son is still 8!) and that friend has been reading well above grade level since 1st grade. That friend is also now enjoying some freedoms I'm not ready to grant my child as of yet. Academically we are still on track, but I wonder about the driving years...goodness knows I'd rather HE be the first one with a car than some of his friends!

My daughter is an April bday, so right in the middle. I don't see much of an issue with her academics or socialization.

Great thought provoking posts Headless. I have found in our school more of an obvious problem with children who flip flop between divorced parents. I can imagine the schedules and the different rules and structure reap havoc on the academics and the behavioral aspect of academia. All the more reason for divorcees to be on the same page where the kiddos are concerned.

bravo headless!

Natalie said...

this whole series was great! and you are does totally depend on the child. when i taught kindergarten i had a student join my class in february. she was hispanic and didn't know any english. i was prepared to have to hold her back thinking the lack of english as well as starting so late would be major issues for her. i was wrong. that little girl learned english faster than anyone i have ever seen. she was a go-getter and finished kindergarten with flying colors. that just proved to me that every kid is different, and they have to be evaluated individually.

and i agree with tracey. i can't tell you how many kids came to school not even knowing their colors. kids calling black dark. red was apple. all i could contribute that to was lack of parental involvement at home.