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.
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