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

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

  1. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I may sound cynical but I really don't think anything will be able to change things at this point. We have become so data-driven in education it's just ridiculous. Even in Kinder we have to do monthly benchmark (paper and pencil) tests, score them and then break it down into the different objectives showing in a chart the percentages for each one. I never in a million years thought I'd have to do that as a Kinder teacher.

    We have high-stakes standardized testing here in 3rd-5th Grade. Do you know we have to listen in trainings to how to begin preparing these kids at 5 for these tests? That's where I truly believe it stems from. No one who actually teaches these kids day in and day out would list all these standards for 5-year olds. Pressure is also put on us by the 1st Grade teachers, but I truly believe they are just trying to make their workload easier-if they come in knowing money and time, they don't have to spend as much time teaching it. Those objectives in every training I've ever attended are not supposed to be taught in Kinder - too abstract.

    Anyway, I know there are a lot of frustrated parents, teachers and children out there - but I just don't see a change coming as long as our education process is so data-driven. Just my :2cents:.
     
  2. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Thanks for clarifying. Wow. The OP's frustration makes much more sense now. So, if it's not mandatory in a certain state, do they still expect 1st graders to enter already reading?

    (sorry if I'm hijacking... I'm just genuinely interested in the function of K and Pre-K in this data-driven world. And whether or not this rush to get them reading is having an adverse effect on them in the higher grades.)
     
  3. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Unfortunately, we need to get data that's hard to quantify before we can answer that question. We need to find ways of quantifying learning other than the standardized tests we currently use. Those tests are becoming less useful for these types of things simply because the tests are being taught, and not the material. My college is eyeball deep into one such research project. We are taking first year students and putting them through a battery of written evaluations (NOT multiple choice). These are being compared to results from students who did the same evaluations in the 80's. I'm VERY interested in the results. I am also very interested in what the results will be in 10-15 years.
     
  4. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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  5. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Unbelievable. So in a majority of states, K is not required, but they still *should* be able to read by 1st grade.

    Thank you, DrivingPigeon.
     
  6. Mommateach

    Mommateach Rookie

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    Mar 24, 2009

    Yup, in my state Kindergarten is not required for children. All public schools are required to have a kindergarten program available though. The length (1/2 or full day) is up to each district. Children are required to be in some type of educational setting by the year they are 6 (Sept. 1st cut off date).

    By the end of the Kindergarten year the staff at my son's former school wanted the kindergarten children to know their 24 sight words, be able to read at a level 5 book (unsure on their leveling system), be able to write two related sentences with proper spacing, inventive spelling and sight words, and with some capitalization and punctuation. They also had some end of the year goals in math.

    I would imagine if someone put their child in a 1st grade classroom at our local elementary at the beginning of the year without the child ever going to kindergarten, that child would be expected to read at least at a level 5. I really don't know what they would do though. I'll have to ask someone I know.

    My neighboring school district just started up a public 4 y.o. preschool program (2.5 hrs) this past fall. The district I live in does not have a public preschool available.

    Basically, what I'm seeing in my area is that all the children are expected to have some sort of preschool before kindergarten. Kindergarten is called the new first grade, so pre-k must be the new kindergarten. The only thing is that pre-k and K are not required by law.
     
  7. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    We had a student enter 1st Grade this year having not attended Pre-K or K and almost immediately he was put on the list of kids to be evaluated for Special Ed. There was probably no actual deficiency there, but he was just so far behind academically. Oh and incidently the teachers "lost" him at one point on the first day of school. It seemed he was hungry and just went on his own to the cafeteria to eat lunch. :eek: Those teachers aren't as accustomed to "losing" kids on the 1st day, most are already well-acquainted with the process.

    I read an article recently that said even just 10 years ago 10% of students moving from Kinder to 1st Grade could read independently. Now 100% are expected too - so yes, I believe Kinder is the new 1st Grade and Pre-K is now equivalent to what we used expect from Kinder.
     
  8. punchinello

    punchinello Comrade

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    So interesting! Now, does that mean maybe 10,20 years ago we weren't teaching them enough? If they are able to read in K, does that mean it is appropriate?

    It's like our middle school teaching Algebra 1 in 7th grade. I took it as a 9th grader. My son has it in 7th. This isn't fast-track math or anything....it is what everybody takes. The kids must be successful, since it has been in the curriculum for about 10 years. Was I not "challenged" enough? Or are kids just smarter nowadays? I still have this gut feeling that it is too much, too soon. But obviously my son is doing fine (A average) and so are his friends.
     
  9. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Punchinello, in my view, developmentally appropriate does not mean anything they are capable of at their age. It has everything to do with the trade-offs. Ten or twenty years ago we were teaching (us) just fine. We all read, don't we? We had more play time in K back then. Play is a developmentally appropriate way of learning when you are in K. My thoughts, anyway.
     
  10. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Mar 24, 2009

    mmswm, Please share the results when you can. I'm really interested.
     
  11. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Shelly, it might be a long time in coming. Thus far, it's an Institutional Research thing. I really shouldn't even know as much about it as I do, but lets just say I have sources. I predict that actual published results are still years away. Unfortunately, with this sort of research, gathering and analyzing data takes a LONG time.
     
  12. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Well, you also have a lot of kids who are viewed as unsuccessful because they struggle with reading. Kinders are being retained, maybe not more often, but more for academics that the social standards we used to use. Now the standards are so much higher academically.

    Most young kids are capable of learning anything. I could teach my kids the 50 states or multiplication tables. The problem is they are not learning the proper ways to apply that knowledge and end up unable to retain it. By pushing the kids to read at such high standards we are develop kids who end up hating reading and writing because it's frustrating for them and they aren't able to see themselves being successful at that level. Learning in any subject needs to be fun for them.

    I saw a checklist for "effective" Kinder teachers recently and I can tell you in most schools in our district 1/2 the things on there are not what is happening-- because we have such an emphasis on academics. They had a lot of things with workstations (which I do, but the other teachers I work with do not), sand/water table, dramatic play, rest time, free play time, evidence of art (which I also do, but I get a lot of flack for). It's just ridiculous to me that these things which used to be staples of an early childhood classroom we just don't have time for in the day.
     
  13. jlj

    jlj Devotee

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    Mar 24, 2009

    It's amazing what's happening isn't it?! And how sad that our children aren't allowed to be children anymore. I've always included a quote on my welcome letter to my parents "A successful adult is one that mastered play as a child." I know where I teach we are blessed to have a Director that understands the importance of hands-on learning so allows us to add and enhance.

    mmswm - As for the research, my personal opinion is that because of the pushing in PK and K, children are burning out by the time they reach middle school. Add to that there's the 6th graders that were elementary were grouped with "middle school", 6th-8th (here in FL) which years ago was "junior high", 7th-9th and 9th graders which were "junior high" were moved up to high school. :dunno: Again, just my opinion but another example of kids being pushed to grow up faster than they should. I hope you'll keep us posted on how the research goes.

    I agree with KinderCowgirl, unfortunately I don't think there will be any positive changes that will actually benefit the children, it's more about the almighty dollar than anything else.
    Call me old fashioned but I think going back to neighborhood schools with strong developmentally appropriate curriculums, in classrooms that make learning fun, exciting and interesting, with respect expected, not hoped for, dress codes followed and a disciplinary plan in place that the administration wouldn't be afraid to enforce....ahhhh those were the days...sorry, back to reality. :2cents:
     
  14. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    I'm holding out hope for the good ol' pendulum to swing back toward center! In my district, there are two choice schools. One is progressive, children-centered, and developmental. The other is back-to-basics traditional. The first one is far and away the most sought after school in the district.
     
  15. Mommateach

    Mommateach Rookie

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    Mar 29, 2009

  16. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Mar 29, 2009

    Thanks for the link! I just browsed it quickly, but I sent it to the other K teachers right away. It's pretty much exactly what I'm talking about. Poor little things. :(
     

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