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Kindergarten Gulag

I don’t know who you blame for this, parents, schools, the political climate, or a combination.

In the last decade, the earliest years of schooling have become less like a trip to “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and more like SAT prep. Thirty years ago first grade was for learning how to read. Now, reading lessons start in kindergarten and kids who don’t crack the code by the middle of the first grade get extra help. Instead of story time, finger painting, tracing letters and snack, first graders are spending hours doing math work sheets and sounding out words in reading groups. In some places, recess, music, art and even social studies are being replaced by writing exercises and spelling quizzes. Kids as young as 6 are tested, and tested again–some every 10 days or so–to ensure they’re making sufficient progress. After school, there’s homework, and for some, educational videos, more workbooks and tutoring, to help give them an edge.

Unfortunately, we already do a pretty good job of wringing any pleasure from the learning process by the time students reach high school.

I guess someone thinks we need to begin the transformation earlier.

kindergarten, testing


  1. Andrew Pass

    The funny thing is that Mr. Rogers was educational. Fred was able to teach important lessons in his own unique way. I’m not against learning from an early age, I’m against busy work and work that does not require thought in any way at any age.

    Andrew Pass

  2. Faranaaz Parker

    I don’t think this phenomenon is necessarily restrictied to kindergardens etc. In my opinion its just a sign of the times we live in – everyone has to achieve at a younger age, set goals, be rich and successful at a younger age.

    When I was 15 I wanted to learn to play the violin. I was turned down by teacher after teacher because I was told I was too old. If you look at Olympic sports, or even the Arts, great emphasis is being placed on people achieving at a younger age. Gymnasts, figure skaters, and football players are all praised and turned into role models for reaching the top of their fields at the age of 15 and 16. In the Arts we have writers like Kaavya Viswanathan who are praised as being so young, so hot, so bold. (And look what happened to her.) If you look at Viswanathan’s book, its all about being pushed by your parents to achieve, achieve, achieve in all spheres of life. Maybe she was pushed a little too hard to do a little too well.

    I think too many parents stress their kids out from a young age because they believe they will be left behind the others. They seem to forget that one’s life is not set in stone by the time you are 20.

    I have a little nephew who started nursery school this year, at the tender age of 3 years, 8 months. His teacher said he was a problem child who couldn’t sound letters, couldn’t write neatly, or colour inside the lines. He asked too many questions and didn’t want to sit down for stories. He was scolded, and the other little kids picked up on this. His older peers pick on him, tell him his pictures or writing are ugly and that he is stupid.

    The solution? Weekly sessions of occupational therapy and extra homework every day. All this well before his fourth birthday.

    Where is the sense in that? Why can this kid not just be a kid, and do children things. When parents start wondering why their 13 year olds start acting like adults and want to do adult things like hit the town, booze it up and have indiscriminant sex, maybe they should start looking a bit closer to home. If you force your kids to grow up too soon, don’t expect them to stay innocent.

    And from an education point of view. Well. Lets just say, what happened to ‘you’re never too old to learn’?

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