The Rules of Kindergarten

“Run, jump, dig, explore, talk, build, tear down, pour, yell, saw, hammer, paint, ride, imagine, sing, wonder, measure, ponder, play, reflect, be alone, examine, experiment, express, daydream”

I am going to get upset-I warn you in advance.

I love kindergarteners because they laugh at my jokes.

So, when 80% of our schools are doing wrong by them, I get upset!

We have 100 years of research on early childhood education behind us to explain the needs of our smallest citizens. Maria Montessori, Piaget, Dewey, Erikson, and so on have explained to us, over and over, the best approaches if we wish to ensure the healthy growth of young children.  Love, acceptance, structure, and play are all vitally important pillars for growth, and yet, we are ignoring their needs through our practices.

I strongly object when I hear about our need to “ prepare the child for Kindergarten” by having them sit at desks all day completing worksheets.

I cringe when I hear of Kindergarten classes where five-year-olds are being expected to read and to add before they are developmentally ready.

I get upset when our youngest citizens are expected to dampen their natural enthusiasm for social play and empathy for other kids by insisting they behave in a rigid, formal manner.

5-Year-olds should not be asked to prepare for Kindergarten; Kindergarten should be asked to prepare for the 5-year-old.

So what does your 5-year-old need from Kindergarten to be successful?        

The Five Truths of Early Childhood Success

Trust – comes from a secure, intimate environment in which to learn and grow.  This occurs when the class is small and the individual needs of children are recognized and met.  The presence of a warm, loving teacher is vital.

Relationship – A strong relationship between teacher and parents in which both consistently communicate together on behalf of the child is essential. This trusting partnership is crucial to ensure success for the child.

truthUnderstanding – that the significance of play is the single best way in which the needs of PK and K kids can be met.  The EC brain is structurally different from that of an older child. A four-year-old brain is twice as active as an adult’s.  The extraordinary importance of play, coupled with its social, emotional, physical, and cognitive benefits makes play the single developmental activity around which all other early educational activities must evolve.

Total whole child approach– All areas of development (social/emotional, cognitive and physical) are interdependent and the focus of the early childhood classroom.  Cognitive development is influenced by physical development as exercise sparks biological changes in the brain that encourage brain cells to bind together. For the brain to learn these connections must be made. Meeting the needs of the total child is extremely important.

Healthy classroom practices evolve from a developmentally appropriate curriculum.  Standardized testing, homework, computer use, competition, learning math facts, no nap, reduced recess, art, music and P.E., etc. have a negative impact on this age group.  What works best is a classroom that emphasizes curiosity and creativity in a setting where students work together, guided by their teacher.

Looking Toward the Future

In an earlier blog, Is My Child On Track?, I lay out the positive characteristics that your child’s classroom experience should look like: early childhood, elementary, middle and high school.

If you are to avoid a disappointing beginning to your child’s education, you need to visit the proposed classroom and watch for both those positive and negative experiences that the children are having.  

Use my blog as a checklist; do your homework, be your child’s advocate, and listen and watch.

At Confidential Parenting, we are here to help.  Sometimes parents, especially those new to the world of education, simply do not know which questions to ask, and what to look for in the classroom.

Even those who have multiple children understand that the experience of each child will be different based on personality, the teacher, the personalities in the classroom, the size of the class, and so on.

Call us, and we will partner with you -don’t hesitate for your child does not get a redo!