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January 3, 2011 - Kylie Saari
There is an undercurrent beginning to be stirred up about kindergarten lately. Seems the government believes students aren't coming to school prepared for kindergarten, and they plan to do something about that. So far I haven't heard what exactly "not prepared" means. Does it mean they don't know how to share, aren't able to sit quietly, or that they can't read already? People are saying our economy depends on students being prepared at age five for rigorous formal training, the likes of which was taught in first grade in years past. I want to know how young they think they can take kids from their parents. My kids both started ECFE as babies, because their stay-at-home mom needed a daytime activity more than that I wanted them to start a curriculum. Both went to preschool, and both are now thriving at school. But it makes my skin crawl to listen to people assume that if kids aren't firmly established in the system before they are potty-trained, they are a lost cause that will bring this country to its knees. I know some parents are not the best role models. I know many, many children are not getting academics as infants in their homes. But isn't there something to be said for kids learning through play? For summers spent running around outside looking at bugs instead of inside studying curriculum? In Minnesota, students are not required to begin formal schooling until they are seven years old. On a typical educational path, by the time students are seven, they are in second grade. Isn't kindergarten supposed to be a time for students to get on the same page before first grade? Aren't students supposed to come to kindergarten without specific skills? It is well documented that students who are "not ready" for kindergarten after preschool do quite well if they are held back a year, allowing them to gain the social maturity needed for a classroom. I don't know what this new political current will lead to, but what I am hearing sure is raising my warning flags. That is why I am planning to attend a seminar this week at SMEC addressing this very topic. Perhaps I will learn my concerns are not valid. Maybe I will be more concerned afterward. I will keep you updated.
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