A few weeks ago, I came across this newspaper editorial about legislating full-day kindergarten. I am adamantly opposed to the idea of mandatory full-day kindergarten for all public school students in this state, so I read the whole article. (I’ll wait, if you want to go read it, too.)
The article quotes a school superintendent whose number one personal priority for new funding would be full-day kindergarten, because, she says, students are arriving in kindergarten “who haven’t been read to, and who don’t know their numbers or their ABCs.”
I can hardly imagine a child who reaches the age of five (or six) without knowing these things. My kids seem to learn by osmosis, which doesn’t explain why my daughter keeps counting in Spanish, because I only speak English–for that, I thank Dora the Explorer. How can parents not read to their kids, not speak to their kids, not teach their kids during their time spent together?
I am not naive. I do understand that some children are growing up in difficult circumstances . . . but adding a half-day of kindergarten is going to solve these problems? Might not funding be better spent intervening in these high-risk families?
For a long time, I’ve been annoyed by the (possibly imagined) pressure I feel to send my children to preschool. I’ve never done so and my children seem to be fine (although on bad days with my Reluctant Student, I would tell you that I am clearly a horrible failure of a mother and if I’d sent him to preschool, perhaps he’d be a genius). Not that there’s anything wrong with preschool, mind you. But I don’t think it is necessary.
Is this the first step? Will four year olds soon be required to attend preschool? Will three years olds be the next target for enrollment? Will our two-year olds be sent to mandatory daycare where underpaid young women will chant their ABCs and count until everyone is dizzy? Where does this all stop? And why do I get the feeling that the state thinks parents aren’t qualified to educate their own preschoolers?
More and more, kindergarten seems like first grade and preschool seems like kindergarten. Children are rushed faster and faster to grow up quicker and quicker. At the Veteran’s Day program, I noticed a bunch of second-grade girls with highlights in their hair and pantyhose and high-heels on their feet. Slow down! What’s the big rush? You’ll have to get a job and pay taxes soon enough, little girl!
In movie theaters, I see children watching movies intended for adults. You know as well as I do that at home, children see even more inappropriate material as parents cuddle up on the couch watching movies with their kids–and sometimes, in concession to Parent Guilt, they cover their children’s eyes at the worst parts. I know 3-year olds who watch rated PG-13 movies and I can’t stop feeling judgmental about that. It’s just not right to expose children to mature themes and images.
The school district officials will tell you that full-day kindergarten will help more kids graduate from high school. I doubt it. But legislating such a law will keep lawmakers busy and will pad the salaries of school teachers and will give the appearance of making children a top priority.
Kindergarten should be a gentle introduction to school. None of my kids could have lasted through a full day of school that first year. And that first year, it took us all morning just to get ready for kindergarten.
And while I’m talking about school, can I just request an immediate halt to homework for elementary school kids? I hate kids’ homework! But the school requires it–not the individual teachers, but the school administrators. Perhaps if the school wasn’t so busy teaching children non-essentials and preparing the kids for yet more mandatory state testing, they’d finish their seat-work while still at school.
I love my local public school. I really do. I love the shiny checkerboard hallways and the festive bulletin boards with seasonal displays and the flickering fluorescent lights. I fondly remember my own school days. I want my children to love their school days. (At least I have hopes for the younger two . . . the 12-year olds’ hate school now.)
I just want those full-time days to start in first grade. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.