My eldest, and all her siblings, thankfully were greeted in their first classroom by an amazing teacher who loved and taught them, and allowed them to experience learning in a delightful atmosphere with a boundless amount of patience and understanding!
When my oldest started, she went all day, every other day, which was the dawn of changing from half day kindergarten. She would come home excited---- and exhausted! They still took naps, had snacks, plenty of playtime and lots of hands on learning!
She went into her first “official” grade of school knowing her name, being able to count to twenty, her parent’s names, bus number, colors and what town she lived in. I’m not sure beyond that of anything significant, since the plan was to learn it in Kindergarten.
Things have changed a lot since then. Students now enter this “official” turning point in their lives knowing much, much more. In fact, they probably know as much going into Kindergarten as my oldest knew when she finished Kindergarten! Knowing very much less than this, can put a child at a disadvantage and at the lowest in his class.
It’s sad in a way, since in some regards with pushing an “education” so much earlier; in some ways, we are stealing their childhood!
Kindergarten officially started in the United States, back in 1873 in St. Louis, Missouri. Susan Blow witnessed children learning, on a trip to Germany in what was described as “a garden of children.” These precious little ones were receiving instruction from their teachers dubbed as “gardeners” and hence the term, Kindergarten.
Here the young ones were taught language skills, math and science, but all through the model concepts of play. Ms. Blow was so taken by the system, upon her return, she researched the possibilities, until ultimately the idea of kindergarten took root in America.
There is certainty our children usually enjoy this first year of schooling. They experience interaction with other children and they learn so much without ever realizing they are learning. That’s education at it’s best: when we can learn for the sheer joy of learning, no matter what subject, even as we grow into our youth and into adulthood.
It seems to me, it’s a double edged sword! If we can teach our little ones at a very tender age to learn for the sheer joy of learning, they are likely to continue to want to learn. My greatest concern, however, is if we put so much emphasis on “educating” because there is such a long list of things they need to learn before first grade, we rob them of the joy of being children!
So I wonder, what are your thoughts about our children going to school at a very young age? Should their education, beyond what they can learn from home, begin earlier, as some have suggested. And should they know more, than they are already expected to know now, when they enter Kindergarten?