Why is kindergarten the new first grade?

Discussion in 'Kindergarten' started by Mommateach, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. Mommateach

    Mommateach Rookie

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    Apr 30, 2008

    Hi
    I was just curious as to your opinions on why kindergarten has become more like first grade.

    Our local news did a story about parents redshirting their kindergarten children. One expert featured in the story has done research on the redshirting subject. She said that redshirting is one of the reasons why kindergarten has become the new first grade. Many of the children can be 15 months older than the others. I thought kindergarten becoming first grade was because of federal and state mandates being tougher. What do you think?

    I am not a certified teacher, so I really have no experience with all of this.

    Let me know your opinions please!
     
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  3. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    I think you're right and lots of it has to do with the emphasis on testing starting in 3rd grade... they have to know more earlier in the year in 3rd grade now (Whose brilliant idea is it to give end-of-the-year assessment tests in March, anyway!!!!), which means there are higher expectations in 2nd... and, therefore, first and, then, carrying down to Kindergarten (and to PreK!!!). So, never mind what's developmentally appropriate for 4, 5, 6 year olds, they have to start getting ready for the all-important 3rd grade tests.

    I've also read about parents who redshirt their young boys so they'll have an advantage in athletics when they get older. For football or basketball or baseball players, the extra time to develop physically supposedly pays off when they get to jr. high and high school sports. They're bigger and stronger than their opponents and can supposedly better compete. That all seems a bit silly to me, but, well, what do I know? ;)
     
  4. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Apr 30, 2008

    In the county that I worked for in Georgia, they start testing in the first grade!
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I certainly agree that it has a lot to do with standardized testing and federally mandated achievement and performance goals.
     
  6. katrinkakat

    katrinkakat Connoisseur

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    Yes, and it's sad. I teach Kinder and we focus on Math and Language Arts with virtually NO time for arts and crafts. I miss that as we did a lot in the Head Start program. Teachers need to be creative and make lessons fun these days. It's a trickle down theory: preschool is how Kindergarten used to be, Kindergarten is how first grade used to be, etc.
     
  7. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Apr 30, 2008

    Plus, in my area, they recently moved the birthdate cutoff back by 3 months. The children are now older...I teach PreK and I used to have kids that could start at age 3 years, 9 months. Now, my youngest kid that can start is 5 years exactly, and there are some that aer 4 years, 11 months. My own daughter will turn 5 3 days after the start of the year next year.

    I think that change, as well as the new academics, are all pushed by standardized testing.

    Redshirting does play a role, but I'm more of the mindset that mroe parents are redshirting BECAUSE of the increased demands in the curriculum, not that the curriculum has changed because of redshirting.
    Kim
     
  8. lotusblossom

    lotusblossom Companion

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    Pardon my ignorance, but what is redshirting?

    I have 24 kids in my kindergarten classroom - they are all expected to be reading by 1st grade.

    We also test out kindergartners with 4 (count 'em, 4!) tests throughout the year.

    This is my first year teaching, so I can't imagine it being any different.

    The pressure is really on us as teachers to get these children to be high achievers, thanks to No Child Left Behind.
     
  9. Mommateach

    Mommateach Rookie

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    Apr 30, 2008

    Kim-
    I agree, from what I've been hearing it's about redshirting because of the demands and not the other way around. That's what confused me about the expert's statement.

    lotusblossom-
    redshirting is a term from the sport's world. It's the practice of having the youngest players on a team sit out their first year in order to gain another year of eligibility when they're older and most likely stronger. How it is used in the educational world/parent world means that the young children that are five might be held back from starting kindergarten until they turn 6. My state has a Sept. 1st cut off date, so many parents that have children that turn 5 during the summer months wait until after their children turn 6 for them to start kindergarten. Around here even the school psychologist suggests that children start when they are 6 (especially boys) because of kindergarten being the new first grade. In my district the kinder kids are suppose to be reading at least at a level 5 book before the end of the year, know 24 sight words and be able to write two sentences related to each other with capitalization and punctuation.
    There isn't much play time at all. In fact, the school's introduction letter that goes out to the parents assures parents that their children will NOT be playing all day.
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    This "redshirting" considerably predates NCLB; I seem to recall articles about it in the late 1980s, and I know of at least one child who would have done fine in kindergarten whose parents chose to redshirt him in the mid-1990s.
     
  11. SLteaCh

    SLteaCh Companion

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    I suppose on a positive note ~ with everything shifting to younger and younger children, by the time I have kids my 6 month old will probably be potty trained!:p

    But seriously, I can see both sides. I think it's more detrimental for a child to be retained than to start later, so I can agree with some parents' decisions to "redshirt" their children (especially when they aren't socially ready for a first-grade-like atmosphere). I know my kindergarten is VERY academic and we still haven't switched over to Full Day! I can also see in some instances where sending them as young 5's could be the better choice (although it's tough on a teacher!). If a parent is going to "redshirt" and do nothing academically with their child during that year, then it's probably better to get the child into an academic setting a year earlier. To each his own, I suppose!
     
  12. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    In tough economic times, we (in the US, at least) tend to react with "back to basics" to compete globally. It's adults placing adult problems onto children, usually with no developmental understanding whatsoever.

    Here's an article from the Wall Street Journal about how Germany is working its way back from that side of the pendulum swing. And by the way, my public choice school that is developmentally based is the #1 most sought after school in my very well-educated district.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120813155330311577.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
     
  13. Mommateach

    Mommateach Rookie

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    TeacherShelly-Thank you for sharing that article. It was very interesting!
     
  14. lotusblossom

    lotusblossom Companion

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    Ah, I get it! Thanks :)

    My district does not redshirt - at least not my school. I had several children start K at age 4, but I also have a handful of 6 and a half year olds in my class!

    I think that kindergarten is just a lot of pressure to get children ready for first grade.

    Not one of my students knew more than 3 letters in August, and in order for me to be "successful" as a teacher, they all have to be reading at a DRA level 3 by um, NOW.

    I will be teaching 1st grade next year, and the kids will be expected to start the year out at a level 3 and end at a level 18!

    It seems that the testing standards start in the upper grades and sort of "trickle down" to the primary grades, and eventually, kindergarten.

    To reassure you that it's not a total bust everywhere, though, my kids get an hour and a half of recess everyday, and 40 minutes of "center time" (meaningful play). So there is some K left in my kindergarten class!
     

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