Early Childhood Education – Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow?

“The notion of children being “kindergarten ready” is a bizarre oxymoron. It’s like saying you have to know how to play the piano before you can learn how to play the piano.”

― Peter Campbell

Obviously, Mr. Campbell is unaware of “Pre-School”.

It use to be that kindergarten was where 5 year-old little boys and girls, raised alone or only with siblings, first came together with children they didn’t know, to learn how to get along with strangers (they called it “socialization”), learn to count to ten (introduction to basic math) and identify different colors and shapes, have stories read to them and learn to spell and write their name (introduction to language arts), a small snack (to keep their energy level up, and perhaps to introduce them for the first time to wholesome, nutritious food), play time (organized with an emphasis on sharing and fairness), and a nap time to recuperate from the arduous morning. This was considered sufficient training to begin “real” school, first grade.

Now they have instituted Pre-School for 4 year-olds to do what kindergarten use to do, and kindergarten to do what first grade use to do. Successfully mastering the former introductions (see above) of kindergarten in pre-school is what’s meant by being “kindergarten ready”. But I get Campbell’s point. 

There’s even Pre- pre-school for 3 year-olds. And I don’t mean Day Care, where toddlers are babysat while their parents go to work.

But I am unaware that there have been any added new academic subjects above the higher introductory limits of math, language arts, history and basic sciences at the high school level than in the past, that require pushing elementary level learning down to kindergarten, and kindergarten down to pre-school, down to pre- pre-, and so on.

Maybe the next step is for 2 year-olds to go to school to learn how to feed themselves, walk upright, speak in sentences, potty-training and introduction to getting dressed by themselves.

Is it that kids today are just dumber and slower to learn than generations before, and need a longer instructional period? 

Or is it the fault of parents who should have been teaching all these basic things to their offspring before school-age at 6 – but haven’t? Maybe they haven’t the skill set to do it, I don’t know. Some people shouldn’t have children.

Yesterday, my youngest grandson, now 5, started kindergarten. He’d gone to a pre- pre-school at 3 and this past year his mom did much of the pre-school stuff with him at home.

I was delighted to hear, that after his first day, he came home happy with his experience and was excited to go back today. I know he’ll do just fine in kindergarten. He’s a smart kid.

Of course he is. He is my grandson, after all.

– Bill


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