Thursday, September 17, 2009

Long lasting decisions

Not only has kindergarten undergone some major, rising expectations since I was a child, but families have also changed greatly in the past 45 years.  I can remember (just barely) coloring, dancing, playing, napping and going home to a mom-made-lunch during my kindergarten school year.  Today the wee folk hit the ground running once they enter the classroom door.

Our Thursday schedule: coloring a small, 5 page, "A" book; writing "the end" on the last page; reading/tracking the book as a group; sitting on the floor for calendar/math and project demonstration; return to tables for project time; writing names the school way 3 times; doing an "A" page with both writing and cutting & pasting; choice time; clean-up; snack; recess; packing up & leaving.  Whew!  Even I'm surprised seeing it all in print.  Especially since I know exactly what each activity entails.

In addition, they're all bringing their prior experiences or lack of experiences.  We have a small group who know how to make, can identify and correctly write upper AND lower case letters.  At the other end of the spectrum we have a somewhat larger group who barely know how to hold a pencil. 

Then there are the situations that make it difficult for two income or single parent families:  half day of school; finding a daycare provider for half a day; wee folk getting sick more often after entering school; AND balancing it all with wondering if their child is ready for school.  Some families probably view that as a luxury and put their child into school as soon as they meet the age requirement.

Every June we see the hope in parents' eyes that all their struggling child needs is a workbook from Walmart to catch-up to their peers over the summer, when we know from experience that their child really needs another year.  Nothing can replace that gift of time.  Time can give a child confidence and confidence gives them the strength to try new things, take on challenges and push themselves out of their comfort zone.

But, of course, it's easy to feel like you have all the right answers while standing on the sidelines. Real life is much tougher.

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