Something ugly is happening in America’s kindergarten classrooms. Playtime and finger painting are a thing of the past. Kindergarten, due to the stranglehold of Common Core standards, is now the new first grade. The stress and demands placed upon our nation’s 5 and 6 year olds, in my educational opinion, is ludicrous.
As a former first and second grade teacher, I am utterly shocked at what is expected of a 5 year old underneath Common Core. Here’s a sample of a few Common Core standards our country’s kindergarteners are expected to master by school year’s end:
Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs describing the same general action (e.g.,walk, march, strut, prance) by acting out the meanings
Use the most frequently occurring inflections and affixes (e.g., -ed, -s, re-, un-, pre-, -ful, -less) as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word.
As a former second grade teacher, these are skills covered then, not a age 5! Even when I taught ELA in middle school, I had students who could struggled with “shades of meaning”.
For fun, have a closer look at all the standards here. Really read them.
I visited many schools before deciding to homeschool this fall. I visited and was wowed by the pricey Montessori. I was disappointed by our Catholic school system. I toured our local public school. The public school was the most disturbing. The kindergarten day consisted of a literacy block and a math block. There’s wasn’t a dramatic play center. An art center. Play has been replaced by the golden tested subjects of reading and math.
Immediately my heart sank. Children learn through play, plain and simple. Even in my son’s preschool program here in Chicago, he kept a journal! Completed a handwriting program! Had homework backpacks! It’s preschool, not college prep.
Gone are the days of fun thematic units like pumpkins and apples. Kids in kindergarten here in Chicago are now subjected to the same computer-based standardized tests as the older kids. Test prep! Writing dissertations! Understanding nuances of language and connotations. What’s next AP kindergarten?
All my 5 year old cares about is his dinosaur collection and what’s for lunch.
Next thing you know, we’ll be pasting sight words above our children’s cribs. Maybe hire a tutor at the hospital! Start em’ early! Wait, there’s already an informercial for that, right?
My youngest son is academically above average. At 4 years of age, he was already reading. How did I do it? I didn’t. He did it. He was ready, and he magically started reading. I was the same way as a kid. I just started reading. Period. Through old-fashioned snuggle time with books, not test prep and flashcards. Not through mandated standards and drills.
But, I couldn’t subject my son to a 7 hour day without play. That’s like investment banker hours for kids: too much and too soon. Plus, nap time in kindergarten has gone the way of play here in Chicago. It’s not in the time table to rest! We must test!
Childhood is a precious time, but with standards like these, it’s a pressure cooker for all involved. I feel for the teachers. It’s a trickle-down system. The standards are imposed from on-high, and they are at the front lines scrambling to retrofit curriculum to the newest wave of standards implementation.
Plus, think of all the money to be made! Textbooks companies must be rejoicing! A new edition!
As a former Chicago teacher, I’ve had to do all those hideous things you hear in the media like teaching to the test. I’ve seen changes in curriculum and standards come and go in the past 15 years-but never in the best interest of the kids. Common Core is a hot mess, a horror show. Sure, teachers will do what they can. But in the end, it’s the system that’s the problem. No Child Left Behind morphs into the werewolf that is Common Core, and parents, need to deeply examine the standards and their school’s curriculum. Parents, please take the time this year to ask WHY, HOW, and WHAT.
I’ve looked into the mouth of the beast here in Chicago, and I didn’t like what I saw.
Many parents think “Common Core” is the curriculum. It’s NOT. Standards are the WHY we learn what we learn. The curriculum is the WHAT and HOW. If there is an issue with the WHY, the WHAT and HOW will never work. The WHY in this case kills childhood. It kills play. It invites more testing, worry, and stress. Period.