Saturday, December 13, 2014

School Systems are Expecting Infants to Walk!

I was just reading an article called A Very Scary Headline About Kindergarteners.  It is an excellent article about how school systems are forcing children to learn concepts and skills at earlier and earlier age levels. For teachers like me, this is not news.  We have been seeing this trend occurring over many years.  It has bothered us, concerned us, and just downright scared us to death!  I have compared it, many times, to expecting an infant to walk.  If the infant can't, then there must be something wrong with the least that is how our school systems are treating our students.

Some students can keep up with the demands that are placed upon them.  Usually, these are the higher achieving students.  The ones that rarely struggle.  They read early.  Learn math early.  And they probably were even those infants that were crawling and walking early.  Good for them!  And these children should be allowed to excel.  They should be given opportunities for enrichment and gifted programs or whatever they need.  But what about the average child?  Or the low achieving child? Should they be forced to keep up?

The article focused on kindergarteners.  I know a little about that.  I spent three years of my career teaching kindergarten.  It was a completely different experience than the kindergarten I experienced back in 1974.  A completely different world.  There was no housekeeping center or block center.  My principal, at that time, would have never allowed me to let the children play. That would have been blasphemy!  Instead, I was attempting to teach these little 5 year old's to read at an accelerated rate while at the same time trying to train them to stand in a line and walk in that same line, use the bathroom correctly by themselves, eat and throw their lunch away, use a pencil, use a crayon, sit still for a story...well you get the idea. Was this difficult?  You bet!  The language arts program I was using spent the first half of the year teaching the children letters and sounds and the second half of the year teaching word families and other sound patterns such as sh, th, ng, etc...  Sound a bit much for 5 year old's?  Of course it does!  It was!  The higher achieving students could keep up, but no one else.  At the end of the year, I was expected to test these children and they were expected to actually read a book.  To add insult to injury, this particular book had words with patterns in it that are not covered until 1st grade.  But yet, they were still expected to read it or they were not on grade level.  Oh yeah, that makes perfect sense!

So here we are back to the same thing.  School systems are expecting infants to walk.  This has turned into a huge epidemic.  The powers that be love to say that it's all about the children, but it isn't.  It's all about the competition.  Until the competition is removed from the equation it will never be about the children.  And how sad that is.

To see the original article click here:
A Really Scary Headline About Kindergarteners

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