Kindergarten Is the New First Grade

So, we’re a few weeks into this Kindergarten thing and let me tell you, I’m a little surprised and overwhelmed by all of the things my five-year-old daughter is learning and is expected to learn by the end of the year. Gone are the days of coloring, play kitchens and dolls. There really is no time for fun. All of that has been replaced by sight words, writing and reading.

I believe by the end of the year, by daughter will need to recognize dozens of sight words, be able to count to over fifty, write her letters and numbers, and be able to do simple addition and subtraction. There’s probably more, but my head was spinning so much when they rattled off the list that I probably forgot a thing or two.

I know a lot of this has to do with the new common core standards that the schools are using. They are raising the bar so our kids can be smarter and more competitive when they apply for college and jobs. I truly do think this is wonderful, but I also think there needs to be a better balance especially when many kids are still only going for half a day. Actually, let me correct myself, two and half-hours a day. While many districts have transitioned to full days, other schools are still only half day with some kids going in the morning and others in the afternoon. Our district is one of those although they are paving the way for full-day Kindergarten in the near future.

Two and a-half hours is a short amount of time to cram in daily math, reading, writing lessons, as well as an occasional “special” (art, music, gym). Don’t forget snack time too! My daughter comes home with a folder full of work she has completed in class each day. When I ask her if she did all of that in one day, she says “yes”. I look at what I did while she was gone and I feel like a real slacker! I give the teachers and students a lot of credit to be able to do so much in such a short amount of time. Let me tell you, come mid-afternoon, my daughter is exhausted. It’s no wonder since her mind was in Kindergarten boot camp all morning!

With all that is expected of these growing minds, I cannot see how a child can succeed without help at home. Besides the daily homework sheets, we spend more time reading, pointing out site words, and practicing some troublesome letters and numbers. I am blessed to have the extra time to do all of this. Without this extra push at home, I cannot see how kids can fulfill all the requirements outlined in the common core. With that said, when all of our work is done, there is still plenty of time to play.

I think you still need to let kids be kids, especially five-year-olds. That means time to play. Playing teaches kids things like sharing and how to interact with other people. Those are just as important as math and reading. While I think it’s great that we are expecting more out of our kids, I think we have to be careful not to forget there is more to a child than the common core.