Our kids finished up their fifth week of school today.
This year we have a junior, a fifth grader, a fourth grader, a first grader, a kindergartner, and a preschooler.
And I’m concerned about kindergarten again.
It has nothing to do with the teacher. I’m more concerned with what kindergarten has become here in Connecticut and in the whole country in general.
It’s too much. Way too much.
I wouldn’t say that Number 6 is unhappy. He doesn’t really complain about going to school. He generally walks off the bus happy.
But every day he says to me, “Mommy, I don’t have any time to play anymore.”
He gets on the bus at 8 a.m., and he doesn’t step off of it until 3:45.
By the time he gets inside and unpacks his backpack and eats his snack, it’s after 4:00.
If I’m going to get him into bed by 8:00, that gives him four hours. Four hours to decompress, play, eat dinner, take a bath, enjoy a relaxed bedtime routine, and get into bed.
And that’s if he doesn’t have to be dragged around in the car to an older brother or sister’s baseball game or swim meet.
On those days, there’s hardly any time at all.
I find that I am telling my son to hurry up! so that he can wind down.
That’s messed up!
There’s not enough down time. Not enough play time.
And in a month when we turn the clocks back, he will have no time to play outside at all when he gets home.
He’s only five. It’s too much.
If most of his school day was made up of loads of opportunities to play and be creative, that would be one thing.
But it’s not.
Our five-year-olds don’t need to learn how to sit in a chair for extended periods of time.
They need to learn how NOT to sit in a chair for extended periods of time.
This morning my little guy came downstairs at 7:25. He was fully dressed. He did that on his own, which is saying something for his level of competence and independence at five years old.
“Mommy! I got myself dwessed so I have time to play with Legos before I go to school!” he told me.
He sat down in the kitchen and ate his breakfast with his sisters, finished up around 7:45, and went upstairs and brushed his teeth.
He came downstairs and I helped him put his sneakers on. We got his lunchbox out of the fridge and put it in his backpack and then got his sweatshirt on and zipped it up.
“Okay, Mommy!” he said, “I’m gonna go play now.”
It was 7:58 and we had to walk outside to wait for the bus in two minutes.
I told him he didn’t have time to play. And he started bawling.
He is admittedly a little bit dramatic at times, but in this instance, I can’t say I blame him.
My kindergartener does not have time to be a kid.
He needs lots of time to be a kid every single day. For like a whole bunch of hours.
That down time I mentioned earlier? That four hours between the minute he steps off the bus and the time his head should be hitting his pillow?
That doesn’t even include homework.
No, he doesn’t have a lot of homework.
But he has sight words he’s supposed to study and a calendar full of activities he’s supposed to complete each month.
And you know what?
He’s not doing it.
I am not making my kindergartener do homework.
His homework should be NOT doing homework.
His homework should be building the “robots” he likes to build with Legos, and chucking the apples in the backyard that have fallen off of the trees onto the ground at the fence and riding his bike and getting dirt under his fingernails and playing in the leaves and reading books with a grown up for pleasure and dressing up and playing cards and Candy Land and doing puzzles and swinging on the swings and playing in the sandbox and just, well, having fun.
And if the majority of his day at school isn’t spent doing that stuff with other kids, well, then that is going to be my priority at home.
He’ll learn how to read. He’ll learn how to write. He’ll learn how to sit. He’ll be able to keep up with whichever foreign kids are apparently so much smarter than the ones here in the United States.
But I could give a rat’s ass if that happens this year.
This year, at least when he’s with me, the most important thing my kindergartener is gonna learn is how to keep having fun.
Look cute while you manage the chaos.
I feel that way a lot my preschooler has been in daycare full time since she was 18 months because we both have to work. The school is amazing they have art on the walls do actives and they do play a lot. But being at daycare 8 hours a day is so long for a small kid,I have guilt about it a lot. We get home we have a 45 min drive sometimes long (hopefully we will be moving soon ) so when we get home its around 5:30 -6:00 we do bedtime routine starting at 730 because it takes so long for her to fall asleep I wonder though if it’s because she has absolutely no time to settle down or Play at home with her toys and relax in her home ……I don’t know how to fix this I just know it’s probably not the best for way for a 4 year old to live everyday….always rushing around following a schedule it’s just to much….sigh
ABSOLUTELY!!!! My 3rd child just started kindergarten this fall. She’s just 4 yrs old. In Ontario we have junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten. It’s way too young!!! She is expected to read every night, study sight words and do work sheets. Right now she’s worried because she can’t properly write her name yet. Worried! At 4 she’s already stressed about school work. Thank goodness she has a wonderful teacher. I just hope that starting this young doesn’t stunt her love of learning.
This is why I’m so grateful that we have half day kindergarten in our area (PA). I’m always shocked when I hear people say that they would love full day kindergarten!!!! They are still babies at 5, that is just too much.
I highly recommend reading this article about the US and Finnish kindergarten systems. The only foreign kids who will be smarter than those in the English-speaking world (here in the UK children start school at the age of 4) will be children in Finland, who are allowed to be true children until the age of 7.
Cassidy Cruise says
I hope he gets to play with legos soon! My daughter is in preschool and this predicament has been weighing on my mind for awhile. I just feel like the school system puts too much pressure on our kids and they need more time to be kids. I have 2 years to decide, but I’m seriously considering homeschooling.
It is absolutely appalling to see what education policy-makers are doing to our children. Learning is no longer designed with developmental stages in mind. It’s all data, data, data. We are testing FOUR-YEAR-OLDS in my district so that the powers-that-be have the data they require for the teacher evaluation system. Teachers feel like they have to close their doors and keep a lookout in case they are caught giving their students free time or doing art projects. It makes me so sad.
Here in Ontario we have JR and SR kindergarten and they are full days for the children. The nice thing about it is that it is play based learning. My younger daughter started JR kindergarten this year and loves it!! We love it to as she is just thriving. She does not have homework at all. They don’t have assigned seating. They do have learning time and reading time but they also have time to play and be kids. We love it because they love it!
Irene C. says
My twin girls just started kindergarten and they both complained that there is no time to play. They have been in daycare since they were 9 weeks old and they are used to being in a “school” environment. I feel bad for them. I don’t blame the teachers or the schools. It is the “system” that has made kindergarten the new first grade.
You are NOT teaching now. Things have changed as you are aware of, since you taught. ALOT has changed that you aren’t aware of since you are not a teacher in your county. I believe to some extent, parents don’t want to assist with the homework, or allow their child to do the homework using the reason it is too much. We all know, homework is meant to reinforce the learning taught in class. Why use the explanation–“I want my child to play?”
not your average mom says
Homework has not shown to improve achievement at all in the younger grades. The reason I don’t want to force my kids to do homework is not at all because I’m lazy. It’s not because I don’t want to help my kids. I have not been out of the classroom for that long. My children will learn more from play and from opportunities to be creative than they will from homework. They learn nothing from homework. They’d learn much more from having unstructured opportunities to play and to appreciate the importance of down time and quiet time for their health. They’d benefit more from partcipating in a sports team and playing a musical instrument than they would spending 30 or 40 or 60 minutes working on worksheets. And I refuse to make them do something that won’t benefit them but which will frustrate the hell out of them. And me. Especially when there in absolutely no benefit to it! Sorry! (And I am still teaching now. Just not in the classroom).
Maryanne Mullaney says
I support. Susie’s viewpoint and I am teaching kindergarten. It is SAD how much has changed for kindergarteners…..