The Reality Behind Kindergarten (From a Mom’s POV)

kindergarten mom pov

Kindergarteners. When you take away all the tattletaling, and whininess – they are perhaps the cutest little creatures on earth. They walk into school with books bags that are almost as tall as they are, most not yet 6 years old, and enter the world of academia while visions of unicorns and rainbows still bounce around in their beautifully imaginative heads. 

Kids in kindergarten are still dreamers. They still believe in things like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Most are eager to please their teachers, and – although apprehensive – are extremely excited about learning to learn. Which brings me right to my point. 

As a stay at home mom, I made a very conscious choice to keep all my kids home until that fateful day when they had to start kindergarten. While I knew that they would ‘get’ the basics of school and education in the long run, I personally felt that these fundamental years of bonding and family foundation were not ones that could be replaced. Kids grow up much too fast as it is. Just as I don’t judge those that feel the need to send their 2 year old to preschool, I don’t expect judgment for my decision to keep my kids home. 

However, aside from an educational standpoint, I do wonder what the point of kindergarten is

It used to be that kindergarten was the place for kids to learn independence, to build self-confidence, to learn how to write their names, and recite their ABC’s. Kindergarten was a place to build social relationships with peers, to learn how to deal with people that weren’t related to them. Kindergarten was the place to grow by leaps and bounds, where learning was fun and facilitated by singing songs and making art. Kindergarten was a gateway to the next steps of their young lives, a time to mature. 

Over the years, the national curriculum has changed tremendously. 

Suddenly, we feel compelled to teach these young children more than the generation before, to fill their brains with knowledge – which often has the recourse of putting stress, frustration, and feelings of failure in their young hearts. We discuss our kid’s level of maturity with their teachers at conferences. Maturity? They are 5 or 6 years old. They aren’t supposed to be ‘mature.’ I have teenagers that I am still trying to teach to be mature. 

And I believe that we have a lifetime to live by the often-unbridled rules of maturity that can truly dampen the tune that raw and immature kindergarteners dance to every day of their beautiful lives. 

I question the idea that just because a 5 or 6 year old has the ability to learn more at a younger age naturally equates to the need for them to do so

It seems that while teaching sight words and reading fluency makes them better students, it may not be making them better people in the long run. 

The balance is thrown off simply because so many kids today start school so young, that for those that don’t – they are perceived as behind academically. Kindergarten is no longer the ‘start’ of a long educational process. It is no longer a time to learn how to stand in lines, follow directions, be away from parents, gain confidence, and develop a lifetime love of learning.  I have such fond memories of kindergarten and yet I feel that today’s kids are missing out on that same experience where it is okay to just be a kid. And that, for many reasons, makes me sort of sad. 

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Truth is – our kids will grow up, mature and learn the curriculum more quickly than we think, without shoving them through the doors of adulthood.

Image via Stef Daniel

What do you think?

The Reality Behind Kindergarten (From a Mom’s POV)

Stef Daniel is the 40ish year old, experienced (meaning crazy already) mother of count ‘em…4 daughters (yes, she takes prayers) who have taught her nearly E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G she needs to know about raising kids and staying sane. She hails from a small town in Georgia where she lives with her family in a red tin roofed house (with just ONE bathroom mind you) on a farm - with tons of animals of course. One day, due to her sheer aversion to shoes and her immense lov ... More

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11 comments

  1. Brittney says:

    I have been teaching for 8 years now….4 of those in Kinder. I can say from the teacher standpoint that it is difficult on us as well. We want to spend time focusing on social development and let them just be 5 and 6 years old. Right now we are expected to teach these youngsters to read and write before they leave Kinder. Some are more than ready…others are not. I have seen students come in who have never been in any preschool do great, some struggle, same for those who were in preschool or daycare. I do not think it matters academically. It does matter however if those kiddos are getting exposure to reading and language. Unfortunately there are more and more coming into school with no literacy experience, and they are the ones who struggle. Not all parents understand that they are the #1 educator in their child’s life. Yes in Kinder we expect more of them than in the past, and even I do not know if that is good or bad. All I know is that I try and teach my Kinders to love learning and to be confident in themselves. It takes a village!

  2. LLand says:

    My son was in Kindergarten last year. About 6 weeks into the school year, the powers that be decided that instead of my son having one main teacher to handle the core subjects, each Kindergarten teacher (4) would teach 1 subject and the students would have to transition to each classroom. It really messed my son and his classmates up. I had conferences about twice a grading period due to the fact that my child, who has a small speech problem, could not be understood by 1 teacher whose first language was Spanish. It was that teachers first year teaching a regular subject, instead of an ESL class. My sons homeroom teacher asked me at the end of the year if I would mind my son being held back to repeat Kindergarten due to the fact that he just wasn’t as big (son is short for his age,comes from me being barely 5′ 1) as the other kids and that he wasn’t outgoing as the rest. I told her I did mind. The fact of the matter is that my child, who will be 7 in a couple months, was able to each and every bit of work that he was given, behave, and actually asked for more work to do when he got bored. To ask me to hold him back for no good educational reason was a slap in the face. This year, I have been homeschooling him 1st grade mainly with some 2nd grade materials thrown in for a change. He will be going into a better school district next year as a 2nd grader unless when they test him for 1st & 2nd grade mastery he passes both then he will be in 3rd grade. Schools need a major overhaul. Pre-k is now becoming mandatory in the school district we live in for the simple fact that teachers don’t want to have to cover the basics that Kindergarten is supposed to teach. They want to pass the buck onto someone else. I guarantee that if the school I am putting my child in next year ends up letting me down on their curriculum, all my children will be homeschooled. At least that way I will know they are actually taught what they need to know and not just what will be on a state mandated test.

  3. AmyCardwell says:

    I made the choice to stay with my kids "at home" (though the phrase "at home" doesn’t accurately capture the spirit of our adventure). My oldest started Kindergarten this year. Academically she has done just beautifully, but the true challenge has been separating from me. My poor daughter still occasionally goes through battles of wanting to stay home with her sister and I, but her teacher says the tears cease almost as quickly as I leave so I am betting the drama is mostly just for my benefit. I have treasured every moment spent at home with my children. It isn’t the right choice for everyone, it isn’t even an option for many; this has been an enriching experience for my kids and for me and I have no regrets. Being a mom was my dream job, and they a little for so little time, that is why it is so important to me to sacrifice my income and career temporarily. I am glad she has Kindergarten to help her learn to follow other leaders besides her mom. I am quite capable of teaching her well at home, but being in school is good for her (not so for all families I am sure, but for my daughter it is a much needed way for her to become more well rounded and independent). I appreciated your article, so nice to hear I am not the only one making this choice, as many have tried to put guilt trips on me for not putting my children in pre K.

  4. Christina says:

    I think they are asking way to much of these kids. My son is in kindergarten and he is stressed. He stresses about knowing every thing the teacher is teaching. If he gets something wrong, he is very hard on him self. My brother is 15 now, but I remember when he was in kinder and its nothing like it is today. I think they are putting way too much stress on this little kids.

  5. Krystal says:

    As a stay at home mom to an 18 month old son and a former teacher, I am constantly going back and forth about public vs. private vs. home school. While I feel like my son should attend school for various reasons, I also feel like a lot of the reasons I have can also be taught at home. I do want him to learn to be independant and learn how to interact with other children and adults outside of the family as well. I do feel like we are expecting more and more from children at younger ages. There are very valid arguements for sending children to vpk and waiting until kindergarten. While I understand both sides, I do have to agree with the the fact that children are seemingly not able to enjoy childhood anymore. I also agree with the fact that teachers are forced to "test teach" now as opposed to the true teaching we all had the privilege of experiencing. What ever happened to the old "SAT" tests that served as placement testing and as tools to gauge if a child is comprehending what is being taught? This new era of tests are ridiculous and I strongly stand by idea that they are doing more harm than good. I feel like we should evaluate just how much we should expect from a 5 or 6 year old.

  6. crystal says:

    My son is in kindergarten. They really are asking alot of them i realize that not every child is gonna be able 2 do the same things as others but i was told my son was falling behind in school. I was like wait this is still kindergarten right ? So his teacher offered some after school help and i took it from her i picked him up she pulls me aside and says "He knows everything that i have been teaching in class just not doing it in class" i said to her well he does do his homework by himself and he gets nervous being with all of the other kids . I just think that they are expecting to much from 5-6 year olds

  7. Alyssa says:

    Kids come in to Kindergarten with all sorts of experiences whether pre-schooled, home-schooled, or no school. Kindergarten helps them to become acclimated to being at school so by the time they go to 1st grade they will be ready to learn the more academic subject areas.

  8. firekitty13 says:

    Kindergarten is a huge step for kids, they are expected to know their letters, basic letter sounds, colors, recognize their name, tie their shoes, solve problems with other kids, and that is all BEFORE they start!! Standardized testing has made it so teachers are forced to ‘teach to the test’ students don’t need that. We need to be teaching our children how to thrive in life. yes math/science/art/reading are all important, but too often the big ideas are lost when the teachers have to teach to the test

  9. Donna says:

    Working in a local school district I have seen many students start Kindergarden that are so upset when they come. Not only becasue they miss their mom and dad, but because they never really had to take the step to do something for themselves. They have always had someone to help or do for them. I believe we need to let out children try. I was taught the more you try the better you become. Not saying we as parents can’t help them, but let them grow. Failure is how we all grow. I agree we have more to teach a kindergardener than before is it right or wrong I am not sure.

  10. My 6 yr old is already learning how to interpret graphs and even the basics of multiplication.. not to mention all the after school activities they want him to be involved in and for us to attend. He barely has time to play after school before it’s dark outside! It’s just too much!

  11. buttrfly247 says:

    My son starts Kindergarten in August and I dont know if I am ready for that

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