August 21, 2016

BOOT CAMP FOR KINDERGARTEN?




Don't get us wrong....getting ready for a new experience like kindergarten is an important step in the  growth and development of young children....and for that matter for all of us.

But "Boot Camp"???  We always thought that Boot Camp was getting ready to be in the military and perhaps war. 
            
An article in the LA Times reported "In Santa Monica, parents are paying $1,000 for boot camp to get their kids ready for kindergarten".     The article goes on to quote the director of Kinder Prep "When they get into kindergarten, there is no play.  It's like first grade."
 
The Boot Camp is described as a no-nonsense series of "educational" exercises some of which may be duplicated in a friendly, fun and non-judgmental way by parents and great/grandparents.  Indeed, friendly preschools and many daycare programs perform these tasks with children without regimentation, without walking single file from lunch to a classroom, without children having to duplicate their names by staying within the lines, without their parents feeling as though children are facing Armageddon and possible failure in kindergarten.

This article talks about families that can afford $1,000 for sessions that essentially provide training...not necessarily education.

From our experience, education should help children become open to new vistas in which the children take the lead.  Of course the adult has to "read" the child and must provide opportunities to explore and discover the environment and the world in which s(he) lives.  It is a time when children learn through play, whether indoors or outdoors, and a time for them to build  

The Association of Childhood International reports:
Children are growing up in a rapidly changing world characterized by dramatic shifts in what all children are expected to know and be able to do.  Higher and tougher standards of learning for all populations of students are focusing on a narrow view of learning.  Consequently, students have less time and opportunity to play than did children of previous generations.  Few would disagree that the primary goal of education is student learning and that all educators, families, and policymakers bear the responsibility of making learning accessible to all children.  Decades of research has documented that play has a crucial role in the optimal growth, learning, and development of children from infancy through adolescence.  Yet, this need is being challenged, and so children’s right to play must be defended by all adults, especially educators and parents.  The time has come to advocate strongly in support of play for all children.
 
Many of us believe that children learn in different ways, at different times and at different paces.  We believe that infants, toddlers and preschoolers are ready to learn, but may not be able to integrate and understand formal instruction at the pace that is now being required of them.  Childhood should be a time for active learning through play and exploration; not through sitting at desks, being drilled and given teacher-directed lessons. “Kill and drill” lessons are not appropriate for young children, and in many cases for any age. 

Kindergarten should be a time that children learn about themselves and others, with caring adults.  They begin the process of being careful listeners and exploring the rules of the school and the world they are entering.  They should be exposed to blocks, painting, play-dough and clay and to music and dancing as a means of self-expression.  They should have opportunities for dramatic play, indoors and outdoors.  They should be surrounded with books and have the time to be read to or just browse.  They should have opportunities to problem-solve with their peers, including conflict resolution.  .

Testing to see that children can identify 10 letters of the alphabet by the time they graduate from preschool doesn’t tell us much about the child, but it does tell them about adult expectations. What does sending homework home from preschool and kindergarten prove?  Does it prepare children for later tedious assignments that could best be accomplished in school or is it busywork to prove that we are keeping our children’s noses to the grindstone.?  Are we being “accountable” when we prevent children from having an enjoyable, as well as a learning experience?  What has happened to creativity and imagination?

The question remains:  How much do we want to shape the schools to meet our children’s uneven needs?  How much of their childhood do we want to sacrifice in order to meet the needs of a government or school district that doesn’t seem to understand that children grow and develop differently, and that one size doesn't fit all?  How much do we want to shape the lives of our children so that they will succeed in school and in life?  




For further reading, please see our blog: NO TESTING FOR MY KINDERGARTEN, from January, 2015



 



July 13, 2016

A CALL TO ACTION!



A CALL TO ACTION! 

It seems that almost every month, week and day, we turn on the news to hear about ANOTHER insane act of horror. One can feel depression (despair and sadness) and sense the repression (tyranny and cruelty). But finally, we must take action (engagement)!

The sense of depression and repression have held us hostage and we can no longer wallow in the wringing of our hands, the horror in our hearts and the worry on our faces. So, in an effort to master the most difficult days of murder and mayhem, we personally have taken some tiny steps that we hope will help our children understand, and help them to learn to take action in any way they can. 

We have chosen to send contributions to "Women Against Gun Violence" (http://wagv.org/), The Southern Poverty Law Center (http://splc.org ) and to visit our West Hollywood Sheriff's Station to thank them for the work they do on a daily  basis, including recently making the Gay Parade safe, free from arrests or violence

We are concerned with the inadequate and sometime thoughtless advice  given to parents and caregivers, on how to deal with children regarding the awful hateful and violent acts that are surrounding all of us. Yes, television and the social media should be monitored in order to prevent the constant intolerable and murderous acts becoming a part of the everyday media consumption of our children.  Yes, we should remain calm.  BUT WE MUST DO MORE! 

We MUST BECOME PRO-ACTIVE IN THE NAME OF SOCIAL JUSTICE!  Done in an age appropriate manner, this is one of the most important life lessons we can pass on to our families.

Here are some ideas you might think about:
  • For young and older children, help them think about what they could do to help a child less fortunate than they are: give a book or toy to a group collecting for those in harm's way, or sending money to a relief group. 
  • For older children, write and send a card of solidarity to some civil rights group working for a positive, non-violent change, in your area.
  • Have your children write to your elected officials about supporting gun control. Sometimes, letters from children, have an extremely powerful effect! 
  • Visit the police or sheriff's station in your neighborhood and tell them that you appreciate their protection and willingness to not use undue force.  We love bringing cookies and flowers. Having personal contact with law enforcement officers helps children, young and old, see and realize that these people are human beings and have good hearts and families and loved ones, just like they do.  
  • Talk about how you will always make every effort to keep them safe and discuss ways that you will jointly work on this:
*Always wearing safety belts when you are in a car
*Holding hands when walking or going to a venue
*Never losing sight of each other when out of the house
*Hugging each other when there is something scary
*Always wearing safety belts when you are in a car


The purpose of taking some action, instead of being acted upon, gives children tools to become active peace makers........and we are in desperate need of those folks.