Friday, March 2, 2012

Why Do They Have to Grow Up?

I am so tired of all the talk and push for all day kindergarten.  Especially in Indiana, where kindergarten isn't even mandatory. 

Everywhere I look, schools are taking away the half-day option completely.  It is now happening at our school.  So many parents requested all day, that the school is getting rid of the afternoon option.  The all-day kids will be split evenly between the two classrooms.  The half-day kids will also be split evenly into the same two classrooms.  At 10:45, the half-day kids will be picked up, while the all-dayers will head to lunch. 

It makes me crazy.

People are so worried about test grades and their children falling behind, that they assume all day is better than half day.  If the child is there longer, it must be better.

Not even close to true.

All day kindergarten came about for two reasons. 
1. Some children are simply safer and better cared for at school. 
2.  In families where both parents work, it made more sense to have the child simply stay at school than move to a day care halfway through the day.

In most schools that have full day options, the parents have to pay for that extra time.  At our school it is actually called KCare.  It is simply a convenience for the parents. 

The extra three hours are filled in with lunch, two recesses, and a rest time.  A craft, book, or "special" may be added in there.

But most parents don't look into that.  They only see that some kids are at school longer, they must be getting a better education, so their child should be there, too.

I have also heard parents say that their children NEED all day. 

Kids most certanily don't need it.  They NEED time to run around and play. 

I've heard parents say that their children are early readers, math wizards, etc., and their children need the challenge of a school curriculum.

I say that's nuts.  Where did that child learn to read?  Where did that child learn his killer math skills?  He/she can get plenty of challenges right at home.

As a preschool teacher, I talked parents out of all day kindergarten.  A child who has a tough time keeping himself together for a few hours of preschool will only have bigger trouble in a structured, all day kindergarten.  And those parents have come back after kindergarten to thank me.

Of course, I am most irritated because it will be affecting my kids.  Turken will not get to have the afternoon class I wanted for him.  (Our big kids leave for school at 6:30.  I do not want to wake my 5 year old up at 6:00 for school!)

By the time Cuckoo goes to school, there is a good chance the half day option will be gone. 

Just think of the ruckus the half day kids are going to kick up when they "have to go home" while their friends get to stay for lunch and recess.  Even more parents are going to cave and let their kids become all-day kindergarteners. 

I used to teach at an elementary school that had this option for a number of years.  The last year I taught there, only one child out of the 50 kindergarteners left after the morning. 

I'm going to stop now, before I get myself all worked up about the pressure put on kids to "succeed", academic preschools, and all other hovering parents do. 

Why can't kids be kids for at least the first six years of their lives?

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