Remember when we were children in kindergarten? We were taught to socialize and interact with our peers. It was all about getting introduced to the idea of school, but not actually performing to certain criteria and boundaries that were etched in a book. We played on the playground and our biggest stress issues were picking out which story we wanted the teacher to read.
It’s not the case anymore, education has begun a change so drastic that I wonder if it is actually benefiting our children or hurting them. California State Academic standards have stretched down to kindergarten and even before if you want to look at the 3 and 4 year old standards. We read a book that contains what your child should be doing at that age in language arts, mathematics, history, social science, physical education, and visual and performing arts starting in kindergarten. These standards explain what your child should know at their age. For example I have included some English Language Arts Standards for reading in kindergarten. These items explain what your kindergartners should know.
1.1 Identify the front cover, back cover, and title page of a book.
1.2 Follow words from left to right and from top to bottom on the printed page.
1.3 Understand that printed materials provide information.
1.4 Recognize that sentences in print are made up of separate words.
1.5 Distinguish letters from words.
1.6 Recognize and name all uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet.
1.7 Track (move sequentially from sound to sound) and represent the number, sameness/difference, and order of two and three isolated phonemes (e.g., /f, s, th/, /j, d, j/)
1.8 Track (move sequentially from sound to sound) and represent changes in simple syllables and words with two and three sounds as one sound is added, substituted, omitted, shifted, or repeated (e.g., vowel-consonant, consonant-vowel, or consonant-vowel-consonant).
1.9 Blend vowel-consonant sounds orally to make words or syllables.
1.10 Identify and produce rhyming words in response to an oral prompt.
1.11 Distinguish orally stated one-syllable words and separate into beginning or ending sounds.
1.12 Track auditorily each word in a sentence and each syllable in a word.
1.13 Count the number of sounds in syllables and syllables in words.
1.14 Match all consonant and short-vowel sounds to appropriate letters.
1.15 Read simple one-syllable and high-frequency words (i.e., sight words).
1.16 Understand that as letters of words change, so do the sounds (i.e., the alphabetic principle).
1.17 Identify and sort common words in basic categories (e.g., colors, shapes, foods).
1.18 Describe common objects and events in both general and specific language.
2.1 Locate the title, table of contents, name of author, and name of illustrator.
2.2 Use pictures and context to make predictions about story content.
2.3 Connect to life experiences the information and events in texts.
2.4 Retell familiar stories.
2.5 Ask and answer questions about essential elements of a text.
3.1 Distinguish fantasy from realistic text.
3.2 Identify types of everyday print materials (e.g., storybooks, poems, newspapers, signs, labels).
3.3 Identify characters, settings, and important events.
This is for kindergarten and it only gets harder. I am amazed at what they require are children to know at such an early age. My child had homework in the kindergarten. Where is the social, emotional, ethics teachings at? Do they not exist anymore? And what exactly is this doing to our children? I have a third grader, he attends school all day, then an after school program. During the after school program he works on homework and has to complete a reading log. When he comes home he still has school work to be completed. Mind you, it’s 6pm at night and he still needs to eat dinner, take a bath, then go to bed. Where is the time to just be a child? Kids are given so much responsibility these days to be proficient in everything they do that its creating an unnecessary-needed stress on the child. There are times that he has come home and cried because I asked him to finish some reading or complete an assignment. “I have no time mommy”,he says while breaking down.
You have the state pushing the schools, you have the schools pushing the teachers, then you have the teachers pushing the children because God forbid the STAR test scores drop in a class. If that happens the school looks at the teacher and thinks she’s not doing her job, and the teacher looks at the child and blames the parents because he or she didn’t get proficient or advanced on the math portion. They wouldn’t necessarily say this to your face but the notes sent home prove that they would like the parents to do their job too.
This STAR test which stands for Standardized Testing and Reporting has nothing standard about it, at least the way the schools are using it to rate their students and teachers. I agree there is nothing wrong with testing a student to see where they are academically but I would like to think that they would use such a test to help the child and work on their weak spots instead of using it as a competition. The my school is better then your school attitude. The big wigs get together and compare notes and awards are given. Do you think they are given to the students? No, even though they do the hard work. Schools send home notes to parents telling you to prepare your child for “The test”. There are release test questions from last years test that the teacher sometimes prep the children so they might get good scores on the one actually given. This STAR test is a series of tests that are timed and depending on what grade level, the subject matter varies.
What it really boils down to is that the generation we now live in is difficult enough without adding additional stress to our youth. They have enough pressure being teenagers already. Do we honestly want to add to that with our advanced level of academic teaching our children to be robots system? Or would we rather have our education system to really be what’s best for the children and not about the competition.
If you would like to check out all the California State Academic Standards go to this site: http://www.clrn.org/search/bystandard.cfm