The Reality Behind Kindergarten (From a Mom’s 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.
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