I’ve been sitting on this story for a few weeks, but the more I think about it, the more I think it has to be told.
I am the mother to three children aged 8, 5, and 3. This is the year that my middlest child should go to Kindergarten!
Kindergarten is a big milestone, am I right? The pure joy (or for me, Terror) of sending your baby into a classroom to begin their learning journey is just really really big.
Because of Covid-19, and because our family elected to take very strict precautions, our kids were all at home with my husband, who is a stay at home dad. They came home for Spring Break in March of 2020 and didn’t set foot in a classroom for the entire 2020-2021 school year.
Honestly? For our sanity, we decided to focus on letting the younger kids play. We read to them, but we didn’t really run a home based preschool. We had enough on our plate, and we put any excess energies into keeping our first grader on track. We kind of figured it would all wash out, our kids are capable and loved and whatever gaps they had in their knowledge would work themselves out.
That said, my middle child used the year to learn many things- such as the name of every dinosaur, site words as taught by the television’s closed captioning fueled by his extreme love for Blippi, T Rex Ranch, and Wild Kratts, how to crack eggs, hiking and hands on nature discovery, dance moves, dice games, playing with his siblings and investing in those relationships, and even the art of debating the need for naps.
What didn’t he learn? Letters names, numerals that go along with the number of items, and (if we’re being honest here) conflict resolution with his peers.
We enrolled him in kindergarten at our local charter school and figured…. It’ll wash. We showed up for our initial assessment in May of 2021, and he was primarily offended by the questions that the educator asked him. Things like alphabet names were a waste of time, he was incensed by the fact that she didn’t once engage him on the name of ocean creatures. She asked him the name of colors where in he responded with “That is the color of concrete. You get it by mixing black and white” but never once uttering the actual name she was looking for.
We accepted feedback and pivoted hard into a “learn these basic widely recognized facts that will be useful for you” and in two months time, he was at about 50% mastery for the general ‘needed’ knowledge*** to enter kindergarten.
(((Back in 1986 I showed up in Kindergarten with my winning personality and a propensity to play and that was, in general and at large, enough. Times….. They’ve changed.)))
BUT THEN……. Surprise! Delta Variant, Meet Texas, Texas meet the Wild Wild West.
I have to say, I’m sharing this story because (1) I found myself really really comparing my Childs abilities to the standards of public education and feeling like (2) I had failed him and (3) getting deep into my feelings on how I feel like I was adequately serviced in public school but never once do I feel that I was formed for success.
I struggle with how to educate my kids, and this little tale will be a multi part series of me speaking candidly and openly on how hard it is for me to know what is best, right, and true.
***=General Needed Knowledge defined as: Letter identification, Letter sound memorization, numeral identification up to 20, counting up to 20, subetization up to 10, color identification, and shape identification.