Have you ever wanted to go back to elementary school? This school year I have had a chance to do just that. After completing the required parent volunteer training, I talked to my son’s teacher and let her know that I would like to be involved in the classroom. She was more than willing to have me in the classroom and so I have been helping out each week. Spending time in the classroom has made me think about how kindergarten has changed, and what has stayed the same, since I was a kid.
To me, one of the biggest changes is the content being taught in kindergarten. The use of sight words, spelling tests, math and science concepts was a wake-up call to me. When my son came home talking about how the alligator eats the bigger number (i.e. greater than/less than) I was surprised. I don’t know about all of you, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn that until junior high! Of course, it makes sense to expose kids to these concepts because they are natural learners and generally eager to learn, but part of me wonders if we are rushing them out of their childhood. And what about the kids who really aren’t ready for all of this yet? Spending time in the classroom I have seen students misbehaving and I can only wonder how much of their behavior is due to just being overwhelmed by all that is expected of them.
And so that leads me to one thing that I think really hasn’t changed that much, kids. Aren’t our kids pretty much the same as we were at that age? Take away all the technology and toys and most kids just want to play and have fun. Kindergarten is still a place to learn how to get along with others, how to deal with authority figures and how to have the most fun at recess! Even though you no longer learn how to tie your shoes, or your phone number and address in class (these are left to the parent to teach) the same basic learning principles apply, because they are still effective for teaching our kids.
I hope my son will have fond memories of his kindergarten teacher and remember her name, just like I remember Mrs. H from my kindergarten class. And I hope that he will keep in touch with his classmates even when they go their separate ways after graduation. But for now I am glad to have had the opportunity to see what his day is like, so I can be a more effective parent and help him get the most out of his school experience.