The pressures of kindergarten are really starting to bother me...

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by DrivingPigeon, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Ok, I know most teachers are feeling the pressure of more and more tests and standards. However, I believe the pushing and increasing of expectations is incredibly innappropriate for kindergartners.

    Today I received an email from the school psychologist that she was looking at running record scores for kindergarten students with my principal and they are concerned about 3 of my students. I am supposed to take these students to our school's building consultation team.

    These students are all very young kinders who turned 5 just before school started in September. They entered pretty low, and now can identify all of their letters and all but 3 or 4 letter sounds. They are also all reading at a guided reading A level. They have made AMAZING progress!!! I feel like all they need is time and they will catch up to their classmates. They are not developmentally ready to be strong readers. It hasn't "clicked" for them yet, but it will. They just need time. They have only been alive for 5 years, for Pete's sake!!!

    However, I feel like I am supposed to figure out what is "wrong" with them. I feel so sad that they can't just be little kids anymore. :(
     
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  3. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    Ah, yes. The trickle-down effect of high stakes testing. It's absolutely insane.

    What irks me is then you have a student who really, really needs help and they refuse to test because he or she is "too young."
     
  4. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Yeah, that is frustrating, too. I have one student who I really think is dyslexic, but of course they won't do anything about it.

    It's just so troublesome that these high expectations have to trickle down to 5-year-olds. Like I always say, I turned out just fine!
     
  5. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    DP, your post makes me sad.
    When those kindergardeners end up in my classroom as juniors and seniors in HS they are SO BURNT on school.

    This testing has got to give.
    Or, we (as a society) are going to pay in a big, big way.
     
  6. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Unfortunately, like the other posters have stated, high stakes testing means children will not be evaluated on the growth they make unless it is academic growth that is on the test. My children who are chronologically 2nd grade are evaluated on 2nd grade skills. I have one second grader whose main academic goal is to learn to wipe his nose. Yet, next year is the year that Fl begins standardized testing. He will be expected to pass the 2nd grade test. Go figure.
     
  7. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    This is a huge problem with standardized testing. In my school, they look at a teacher's growth each year (as if that isn't crazy -- each year is a different class, with different strengths and weaknesses.)

    Here is what gets me. One year I actually got 100% of my students to pass the state-wide test!! Whoopee for me!!!!! But the next year, only 98% of my students passed. Now most teachers have around a 70-78% pass rate -- but my name was spit out by the computer as failing to meet my goals. Why? Because my class scores showed no measureable growth! Hello? You can't get higher than a 100%, so even if I had gotten a 100% pass rate again the next year, my name would have been on the "no growth" list! How crazy is that?

    You would think that when the average class had a 78% pass rate, and I had a 98% pass rate, they would have been ecstatic -- instead I was on the "bad list."
     
  8. TeacherGrl7

    TeacherGrl7 Devotee

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    I feel the same way... I teach Pre-K in a very academic program, and there is so much pressure on me for my little 4 year olds. And then when I have children that I am really concerned about I am told, "Don't worry, we'll catch it in kindergarten." Soooo I'm responsible for them being up to par on all these academic areas, but when they need help to get there, I'm supposed to ignore it and hope that they get the help later? What??

    I don't think a lot of people realize how incredibly difficult it is to teach such young children academic skills when many of them are still learning how to sit on a carpet, wait in line, wash their hands, share a toy, express a thought. There is not enough time in a day to teach them all these things PLUS how to read, write, and the thousand and one other things in my curriculum book.
     
  9. dizzykates

    dizzykates Habitué

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    I was just talking about this with a coworker today!! It is crazy what we are expecting from our students. At my school our standards are significantly higher than the surrounding districts. Yet our students are highly transient. We get new students weekly and they are always "behind". My most recent addition is behind even though she knows almost every letter, numbers to 50 and all her sounds. She is behind because she doesn't know how to read. It's MARCH!! Not every child can read yet! According to her records she is on track at her old school so how do you explain to the parents that we are going to put her into a remedial program for part of the day.

    How do you encourage students to develop social skills and respectful behavior when they have never been taught any of that before? How do you expect kids to start reading 6 months from the day they ever first set foot in a school? When their parents can't help them because they aren't able to speak English? Ugh. It's so frustrating.
     
  10. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Exactly. Many of them still need to be told when to get a tissue, can't tie their shoes, need help zipping their jacket, and still have bathroom accidents. I don't think people realize how tiny they are.
     
  11. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    This is my life exactly!!!! I really feel this way as well. The high stakes for 5's trickles down to the 4s and then to the preschool program. I have often wondered when it will turn into baby testing. NOT that I want that-just it seems to be where we are going.
     
  12. adventuresofJ

    adventuresofJ Comrade

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    Now i know why my 6th graders do not have basic skills like standing in line and being polite and respectful. They were being asked to learn how to read at 4.... arg. At this rate i'm homeschooling my not-yet-existent children.
     
  13. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Some of the administators need to review Piaget.
     
  14. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    9
     
  15. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    I think it is the clueless politicians who claim to have great solutions for education who need to have studied Vigotsky and Piaget.
     
  16. treysmom

    treysmom Comrade

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    I SO agree! Do you remember the woman with the spiked hair that ran around on tv a few years ago shouting "stop the insanity" over (I think) diet/weight loss? I don't have the spiked hair, but I feel like shouting stop the insanity in education! You know, when you build a house, if you don't put all of the foundation in place, it isn't a strong house. I think our kids are missing some very basic skills/activities by being pushed to do so much. I live in a very small rural town and so many of our kids do not attend pre-school. Forget all the things they missed; they are expected to jump right in and do what I consider in many cases first grade work. I mourn the death of kindergarten-it was a wonderful and special program.
     
  17. puff5655

    puff5655 Cohort

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    This gets me SO frustrated. School boards are made up of lawyers and politicians who have NO CLUE when it comes to the classroom.

    Even President Obama, who claims to be an agent of change, has selected his basketball buddy, and lawyer to be the national head of education (the man who runs the failing Chicago schools, which Obama refused to send his own children to)

    As EC teachers, we need to be advocates for children (as if we don't have enough on our plates already). Why? Because there is absolutely no one else. Most parents aren't educated enough in ECE to know what is best for young children at school. WE need to educate them and spread awareness of the harmful effects of what's happening here.

    TeacherGrl7, there was a HUGE study comparing pre-k's (following children from prek-age 40) called the High/Scope Perry study. It proved that play-based preschools yielded much better results than academic ones. In fact, academic ones were actually HARMFUL to children.

    Google it. Here's one link to outcomes:
    http://www.ericdigests.org/1994/lasting.htm

    Believe it or not, I went to HALF DAY Kindergarten, and miraculously, I can still read!!
     
  18. puff5655

    puff5655 Cohort

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    Here's another good one:
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20056147/

    "What we found in our research then and in ongoing studies is that children who were in a [play-based] preschool program showed stronger academic performance in all subject areas measured compared to children who had been in more academically focused or more middle-of-the-road programs,"
     
  19. MandaNicole01

    MandaNicole01 Habitué

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    I agree something must be done! I teach kinder and my class is lucky to get a 25 minute recess all day! :( I have a 120 minute reading block followed by 3 different math curriculums! Today I only did one of the math programs and let the children paint! What are we doing? I have students who turned 5 two days before school started...I spend my day passing out worksheets, drilling letters, sounds, sightwords, math facts, giving dictated sentences for my children to write when I have children who still can't decide which hand they want to hold their pencil with! I will say all my children can read but can they all cut on the line or color in the lines? No! When do we ever cut or color?! SAD! It is so darn sad! My kids ask me, "how many more papers do we have to do?" I'm such a rebel - I trashed the reading worksheet for today and did a fun writing activity instead! lol

    Seriously though, I'm having trouble finding a balance...I don't want to let kindergarten completely die...I still like to do fun activities - clay, paint, art, sand table, etc. But how do I keep up with all the academic demands?! I'm suppose to be "true to the core (program)"...I hope I'll figure it out as I have more experience...?
     
  20. MandaNicole01

    MandaNicole01 Habitué

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    Our pre-k is play based and I think research is wonderful, however, in my experience it makes it harder on the children in kinder. Most of my students couldn't write their name, knew few letters, didn't understand the concept of a class activity...they thought they had "choice time" for everything. I had one say, but I don't want to go to the computer lab...lol It's also hard on parents, many came to me wanting to know when "choice time" was and why we didn't have more recess like in pre-k! The transition needs to be addressed...it's like they are going from pre-k to first grade...kindergarten doesn't exist anymore!:( My kids/parents were shocked at how academic kinder was!
     
  21. myKroom

    myKroom Habitué

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    Kids just aren't getting the social time that they need. This is what PreK and Kinder are SUPPOSED to be all about! And we wonder why we have behavior problems!!

    These kids shouldn't be forced to know all letters, sounds, how to read, etc. If we can get them there, great, but I shouldn't have to feel that my job is on the line if they don't! IT'S NOT DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE!! My college was big on developmentally appropriate practice so this is big for me!

    I love the three years of Kinder I have taught...but the academic stress on my kiddos is too much. I'm planning on moving up a few grades. If I have to stress academics...I'd rather be in a grade where it is more appropriate!
     
  22. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Our district had a huge literacy push this year. One of the mandates that came out of it was - Kinders to be reading 40 words per minute by May. 1st Grade was only 60 words (I think it's much easier to go from 40-60 in a year, than from zero - many kids come in not knowing letters and sounds - to 40 words). I can't even find fluency passages to test my kids with in Kinder - no one makes them!

    I get a lot of flack for even doing workstations! I have the reputation with other teachers who tell future parents to beware if their kids end up in my class-- because my kids "play" all day. I also do art (heaven forbid!)- I have to justify it all the time because the curriculum our district uses doesn't have art objectives ( I just have them write about what they make). Oh yeah, we have standardized testing in January as well that they are supposed to be prepared for.

    I really worry about not only the lack of social skills these kids will end up with but also the lack of creativity!
     
  23. chicagoturtle

    chicagoturtle Fanatic

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    It is trickling down to pre-k too.
    Here in Chicago we have scripted curriculums at most of our pre-k programs. (Many teachers get away with not using them!- but... they are there - and are very expensive).
    I opened my mouth real wide last year - when I asked why we were teaching sight words to three year olds, especially those with identified disabilities and 1 - 2 year delays. I'm not sure they liked that but well it happened.
     
  24. DHE

    DHE Connoisseur

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    That is very crazy:dizzy::dizzy::dizzy::dizzy:
     
  25. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I was waiting for someone to pick up on Rainstorms post. That IS crazy!
     
  26. kteachone

    kteachone Companion

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    There are many things on my report card that I don't agree with. Why do 5/6 yr olds need to know what a cube/sphere is? Capacity? Seriously. Some of our standards are ridiculous.
     
  27. punchinello

    punchinello Comrade

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    I just posted on the General Education forum, but here you are already talking about it! LOL

    I agree that it's too much, too soon. But if my students are going off to a full day, very academic kindergarten next year, is it my job to start introducing them to skills this year? I would love them to march right into K with a feeling of confidence. When the K teacher starts a lesson on short vowel sounds, my students will jump right in.

    Confused.
     
  28. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I do homeschool my own children, and this is one of the reasons why.
     
  29. punchinello

    punchinello Comrade

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    Homeschooling has it's advantages, but wouldn't school skills like standing in line, taking turns, raising hands, being respectful toward other children, etc. be better taught in a school?
     
  30. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    My children know how to respectfully converse with college professors, deans and campus presidents, sit through graduation ceremonies, wait in line at the grocery store or the DMV, take turns with each other and with the other 200 kids in the homeschool group during the trips to the park, and are usually the best behaved children in the classroom when I have to bring them to work with me. Have I missed anything?
     
  31. punchinello

    punchinello Comrade

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    Oh boy. Never mind. I should have known better!
     
  32. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Punchinello, it's a knee jerk reaction. SOME homeschool parents do not school the entire child (or any of the child, for that matter). The vast majority of homeschool parents; however, are interested and concerned about the appropriate development of their child in all areas, and that includes social development. School is far from the only place where a child learns social skills. A homeschool parent must simply work harder to ensure their child has those needs met. Most homeschool parents are more than willing to do that.
     
  33. Mommateach

    Mommateach Rookie

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    As a parent I was very naive when I sent my son off to kindergarten. I had no idea how academic it was and why. I think I learned more or just as much as my son did that year in kindergarten. I realized how the current system is pushing these kids harder and harder. Some kids may be able to handle that, but my son was very frustrated with the academic demands. He cried a lot and did not like school at all.
    Before my son started kindergarten I was under the delusion that my son would be playing a lot with other children during recess and free choice time, playing with play-doh, painting pictures, singing songs, learning how to cut, paste and write. They did do those things to some extent, but it wasn't for very long. Apparently, the children were already suppose to know how to cut, paste and write. Free choice time was only for 25 minutes at the end of the full day (8-3). If your child went to the 8-12 half day (parents' choice in our district), they would not get that free choice time. The kinder kids had two 15 minute recesses during the full day. If your child went 1/2 day, the child would only get one 15 minute recess 4 days out of the week.

    A question for you kindergarten teachers out there.....what do we do as parents and teachers to speak out on this pushing down of academics? Do we contact our local, state and federal representatives? Will they even care? It seems to me in my area that many parents like the fact that their children are doing more and more in preschool and kindergarten. Some say that we shouldn't be treating them like babies and that they can handle more than we think they can. I've heard some parents say that if we set high expectations the children will rise to meet them. Apparently, these parents don't have a child like my son.
     
  34. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I think that's the problem. Teachers try to speak up, but no one really listens to us. Many times, administrators don't care until they get complaints from parents.

    When we have district K meetings, we literally pound our fists on the table at the fact that kindergarten is not developmentally appropriate anymore. None of the "higher ups" do anything about it, though. They just continue to push, push, push. And, honestly, so do other teachers in my school. Even first grade teachers don't think we do enough, and they expect us to treat them "less like babies."

    That is one of my biggest fears as a K teacher-that my students won't like school. I try to teach everything I'm supposed to through games and play, and I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job. I just feel like "seatwork" and worksheets are so inappropriate for kindergarten. My students are learning the same exact things as other kindergarten classes, but in a developmentally appropriate way.
     
  35. Mommateach

    Mommateach Rookie

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    Keep up the good fight DrivingPigeon! We live in the same state by the way!

    I also wanted to mention that at the parent orientation that the district had 6 months before my son attended kindergarten they didn't say anything about what they really expected of children before they entered. They said that they start at the very beginning with the alphabet, so parents didn't have to worry if their children didn't know that yet. They gave us some things such as the kids need to know how to go to the bathroom on their own, work their own clothing and wash their hands. That was basically what they told us they expected. That was not exactly true and I wish they would have had some sort of checklist of what they really wanted children to know before they came into the classroom! Or the principal of my son's former school could have spoken at the parent meeting and told the parents exactly what she told me..."kindergarten is the new first grade". Looking back I might have held my older 5 y.o. (early Nov. b-day) out of kindergarten that year had I known.

    Oh ya...the district also sends out a letter to upcoming kindergarten parents stating that they assume the vast majority of children have been in some type of preschool, day care, summer school setting, so parents are the ones who need an hour meeting on kindergarten orientation. They feel confident that the 3 & 4 year old screening process, which they hold 4 times a year has detected most of the special needs kids. The district doesn't inform the public about these screenings very well nor does it say what it entails or where to go. I guess, it is mentioned every once in a while on a local tv station with a name and a phone number to call if you think your 3/4 y.o. child has developmental issues. I think that this is all very strange.
    I really wish that the district would be more straightforward and proactive.

    Ok...off my soapbox for now...:dizzy::sorry:
     
  36. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    I agree that they should really be more straightforward. We do assessments the second week of school. Most children can recognize 40+ letters at that time. If they are below 40 we are concerned. They should really know all letters and letter sounds by December, because if they aren't reading by January they are considered behind and are "flagged" by administrators as being low. :(
     
  37. Mommateach

    Mommateach Rookie

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    My son Dalton was "flagged" in late November of his K year because he didn't follow his kindergarten teacher's instructions well in a noisy classroom, had a hard time with drawing, cutting, pasting, doing crafts, doing worksheets independently and cried a lot. He already knew all of his letters and letter sounds, could read a list of his own sight words, had 16 out of 24 of the school's K sight words down and was way ahead of his class in most areas of math. His Music, P.E. and Art teacher said he was doing well and showed tremendous growth and improvement already by the beginning of December though. At first some of the school staff suggested that my son repeat kindergarten because they were afraid on how he would do in 1st grade due to all the writing that is involved that year. Luckily, he caught up to his peers by the end of the year in penmanship, cutting, pasting and drawing.

    Sorry....I didn't mean to start venting....
     
  38. Kindergarten31

    Kindergarten31 Cohort

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    What I find amazing is that all of the Kindergarten teachers who responded teach ALL over the USA and we all seem to have the same problem. Our problem in my school and seems to be in other local schools is that anyone who doesn't teacher Kindergarten (or first) say, "Oh, they are SO cute-what adorable little ones! Why, they're just babies! " And then say OK-test them on this that and the other and you better have them all reading by the end of the year!
     
  39. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Can I interrupt and ask a stupid question?

    Is kindergarten mandatory now? I know it used to be voluntary. And half days at that. And I remember a lot of coloring... mostly because I could already read. But I thought K was for socialization and basic sounds and such and 1st grade was learning how to read and count (can you tell I'm not elementary :) )

    Like a friend's daughter in K has to be able to write an "essay" by the end of the year. Aren't they, like, still learning how to string words together and print?
     
  40. CollegeStudent1

    CollegeStudent1 Rookie

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    My son is in kindergarten, advanced kindergarten, and they have bounced around this school year with different assignments. I teach him at home so he had already knew how to read before going to kindergarten, how to tell time, how to add using counting on.....But his teacher will go from one week doing kindergarten stuff to doing first grade work the next week. They are writing sentences, correcting the punctuation in sentences, and now they are starting to write paragraphs..........what's this? I think she is pushing the kids in her class too much and she is not a nice teacher at all (attitude).
     
  41. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    In most states, no, kindergarten is not mandatory. Each state has its own laws as far as when children are required to be in school.
     

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