When I was 5, I played, had fun, and learned age-appropriate things. Unfortunately, that is not the case anymore. Now, the kindergarteners of America are mastering things that I did not even learn until higher grades.
By the end of kindergarten, they are expected to learn how to read, to analyze shapes, to compose writing prompts and much, much more.
The expectations of kindergarteners are getting much too high.
The "common core" standards have not even gone into effect yet, but these tougher requirements are already impacting kindergarteners. When these ridiculous standards go into place in 2014, they will negatively affect kindergarteners, and their parents and teachers.
But there is still a way to fix it.
I argue that the higher expectations will strongly affect kindergarteners in a bad, stressful way. Kindergarteners are not ready to do writing prompts and excessive amounts of homework every night.
Expert psychologist David Elkind, writer of "The Hurried Child" and "The Power of Play," says, "We are sending too many children to school to learn that they are dumb."
The children are under tons of pressure and their self-esteem drops because if they fail to achieve certain requirements, they are called "not proficient." These negative comments made about a 5-year-old's academic abilities are damaging to their self- image and cannot be tolerated.
Now, just think for a minute, if the shoe were on the other foot and you were in kindergarten, and someone responded that you were "not proficient," how would you feel?
Would you smile and say, "thank you very much" or would you burst into tears and never, ever want to go back to school?
Just because society wants a kindergarten genius does not mean that the kindergarteners will change from wanting to play to loving math that a second grader should be learning.
Kindergarteners just should not be put under that much pressure. The government and the school systems are expecting too much from children who are not developmentally ready to handle it.
There is no doubt that by increasing these expectations, not only kindergarteners themselves will be effected, but their parents and teachers will, too.
One example is when a 5-year-old girl, not knowing her alphabet, made up her own song and taught the song to the class. Her teacher, Christine Gerzon, had to send home a letter because of new expectations that said, "she is not proficient in language skills."
The teacher was disturbed. She said, "it's destructive, even abusive. That's a pretty strong word, but what do you call it when you take a group of children and you force them to do something they are not developmentally ready to do? What do you call that? It's abusive."
Also, there is pressure. For example, the same Christine Gerzon retired after being in the school systems for almost 40 years because of the pressure of the new requirements.
One teacher who teaches first grade in the Danbury public school system said that if the kindergarten teachers fail to teach the kindergarteners all that they should, then the first-grade teachers have to stress about teaching the absurd kindergarten curriculum plus the first grade one.
There just are not enough hours and days in the school year. It is just too stressful.
On top of it all, remember that even though it may seem hard enough to teach this all to full-day kindergarten, just think about the fact that the majority of the Danbury district's kindergarten classes are half-day.
That would be enough to make any half-day kindergarten teacher stressed and ready to lose their dream of teaching and just quit or retire early.
Even though some people may think that higher expectations are good for everyone, it is not necessarily good for anyone.
Although it may seem nice to have your kindergartener speak with vivid word choices (words like frigid or tedious), what is the price of that? Is it worth the risk of stressing out adorable 5 year olds and making their self-esteem go way down?
Aren't we trying to encourage kids to be motivated and never give up? How is that possible when the expectations are beyond what their brains can handle?
If kindergarteners are learning second grade appropriate things, then what will the second graders learn? What will the seventh graders learn?
Parents have to deal with moody kindergarteners when they come home. Parents now have to stress about deciding if their child is ready for kindergarten because of the new standards, and if they are not, many must consider holding their child back.
The solution to all of these problems is to fix this whole mess once and for all.
I firmly urge the government to make the "No Child Left Behind" law, signed and ratified in 2002, be changed for the better by making the law more child-friendly by making the kids learn ABC's, numbers, nature, etc. in a fun way.
The "common core" standards that go into place in 2014 about kindergarteners having unrealistically high expectations should not be adopted.
I am not saying have the children just play, but do fun work -- they will learn it better while having fun.
By going forth with my solution, we can truly change the kindergarten experience for the better.
In conclusion, for the sake of kindergarteners and their parents and teachers, I beseech the government to please change the "No Child Left Behind" law to be more child-friendly.
Also, please change the unrealistically high expectations of the "common core" standards that go into effect in 2014.
As you can see, this situation is making numerous people stressed, unmotivated, and very upset. If we do not change this law, it will continue to harm people.
It is never too late to change what has gone terribly wrong. If we can do this, then we truly can once again make kindergarten a delightful place to be.