Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Possible Death of Kindergarten

You know how you can be aware of an issue but not really think on it too much until YOU are facing that issue head on?


Well, I've heard chatter a long time about Kindergarten. If you spend any time at all on the computer reading homeschool blogs, articles, or'll see this discussion pop up too. But I had a second grader and a 3 year old last I wasn't ready to pay attention to it.

Now, however I have a 5 year old who next year "should" begin Kindergarten. Her cousin will be starting Kindergarten. Some of her friends will be starting Kindergarten. So now I have to decide what her Kindergarten year will look like here at home.

If you had asked me over a year ago what we would do for Kindergarten, I would have had an answer. I knew what I wanted Kindergarten to look like. I was looking forward to it. Probably it's because I'm a bit of a nerd and I LOVE school. Always have. New school supplies set my heart racing. Teacher supply stores are like a little slice of heaven. Sweetheart inherited this from me.

Speaking of Sweetheart...she went to public school Kindergarten. I talked about that experience beginning here. So I've never homeschooled a kid this age.

So there's a lot to think about...."better late than early" (I haven't read the book but I read that it was written in response to an article. At the time California was trying to make compulsory education a law for children aged 2 years, 9 months!!!!! Are we not right back there now with talk of mandatory Pre-K? That was nearly 40 years ago.), all the curriculum choices that are out we even need a curriculum? There are scope and sequences to look at. There are lots of schools of thought on the whole issue. And then there's what I know of the origins of Kindergarten.

And I think I know what I think. :)

But I'd like to hear from some of you. What did/does Kindergarten look like in your house?


  1. i do not know that I did "kindergarten. I think I kindof did pre k-(using sand, beans, 5 in a row, big pencils, etc) straight to 1st grade( math currculum, math, phonics etc)

    I dont know what it looks like to me because I did all of it all along, does that make sense. and with older ones Matt automatically did stuff Kate was doing and Emily has automatically done stuff both kids were doing.

    none of what i just said really makes sense or answers your questions I guess---what I mean is I just start teaching based on what they needed to know. I do not or have not really teached grade level to my kids, we just learn. All three of my kids might lace silly cards one day, but the next they might to history together learning about Alexander the Great and copying great quotes! So kindergarten to me is a term that doesnt exist in our school I guess- i just teach???

    You made me think though!

    Oh and I so love teacher supply stores too! It is heaven to me! I love stuff!!

  2. My daughter is in private school kindergarten this year. They do a lot of coloring, story reading and story concepts expanded into their day. One letter a week. Snack starts with that letter, stories relate to the letter, etc. You know, the basics. They incorporate God into just about every subject matter somehow, which I like. Songs all over the place and reading logs and advent charts are the homework...

    Sometimes a science project will fit in like exploring how things grow and then they grow them to see how things will turn out. They made jam one day that was somehow incorporated into something. They bring in boxes and wrappers from food and "read" the labels when they begin reading. Ummm...I don't know what else. I just know my daughter likes to color and she does that ALL the time and loves to sing and tells me all kinds of interesting facts like eating apples cleans your teeth and a candy cane is really an upside down J that stands for Jesus :)

  3. I was going to leave a comment, but it just got longer and longer, so I'm just going to post about it instead. :)

  4. See Luanne? That's what I was expecting from kinder. Did you read about my older daughter's kinder experience?? Not so much what I was thinking.

    What you have just described...around here that's called "Preschool." I'm not even kidding. Her Kindergarten sounds wonderful! :)

  5. The Four Little Penguins did blog about it here:

  6. Read all of your post about kindergarten. That is horrible. I am sad that you had such a bad experience.

    I am "older", having grown up in the '50's, when there wasn't much kindergarten around. They just put us all in the first grade starting at 4-years-and-9-months of age. That was common.

    My older son went to pre-school, on base, where he was taught letters and counting. He went to a Catholic kindergarten, (1993) where they taught him to read. Private school is more advanced, because the families are middle-class and have more time to spend with their children, because fewer moms have to work, and the children are also more disciplined, for the same reason: they have had their immunizations, are well fed and rested, etc. So, our experience there was good.

    Our younger son went to a public kindergarten (1994), and we had no complaints.

    Where we found the same troubles you experienced was in the lower grades (like second grade, 1994 and onwards) and into middle-school and junior-high. We couldnt' believe all the homework, and all the time we had to spend teaching them ourselves. We felt like we WERE homeschooling them!

    School has really changed. It seems like there is so much time spent teaching politically-correct stuff, that there is no time for teaching.

    I feel sorry for the children, the parents, and the teachers in public school. We survived it, but whew! Don't know if I would do it again.

  7. Oh yes, Civilla--I started teaching in 1993 and school changed SO MUCH in the 11 years I taught that I almost didn't recognize my job at the end.

    And I'm sure there are still places where kids can have a great Kindergarten experience....
    but I feel the pressure coming from the top (Bachelor's degree isn't good enough anymore)....and the pressure goes all the way down to Pre-K and Kindergarten until I don't think the expectations are sensible anymore.

  8. Our "kindergarten" is very simple. We read all the classic children's picture books, especially the Caldecott winners, while learning the names and sounds of the alphabet and numbers to twenty. Depending upon the child, we learn more, maybe simple addition, measurements, reading, etc., or less. But, mostly we play a lot: puzzles, scissors, dough, paint, crayons, name it! They are only young once with a lifetime of learning ahead of them. Boy, are there somedays I wish I could just play again with Legos for an hour...

  9. For my first child we did maybe a month of kinder work in that year. He was not ready for a full day/5 days a week deal. BUT, he was reading and doing simple math at the end of it. My first grade he was able to take on more and he did. He didn't have any issues with learning anything we did in first. His very light kinder was great for him. He was also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 5. It was a big year for us and I am glad we took it slow. He is still the one I have to engage and bring to our lessons each day.

    My youngest son was 2 when he begged for school. I thought he just wanted to do it because of Eli. I put him off for a year. At age 3 he begged for schoolwork for his birthday. I gave in. We did what many would do in kinder in our 3 year old preschool. He was reading small words and doing addition and subtraction at the end of it. We also had lots of arts and crafts and playtime. We only did this when he was in the mood and asked for it.

    When he turned 4 he started with great joy his kinder program. He is now 5 and finished last month. His first grade stuff is on it's way next week.

    My youngest was my worksheet kid from the start. He loves to do things over and over again. He loves to learn and soaks it up really easily.

    I think that we should just meet our children where they are...not just in kindergarten. But I also feel upset when others tell moms to not do kinder or preschool with their small children. Each child is different. And kinder is just a sweet time to learn about your child and to learn to learn with them. :)

  10. a new visitor here... love this topic... our house we don't call it anything really, just "school", as preschool and kinder just blend in... same similar format, just different level of difficulty and expectation...
    format= one letter per week w/ story, craft, color page, shape, sound, sign (language) and repetitiveness of that letter...
    Age 2/3-ish- focus is on capitals
    Age 3/4-ish- focus is on lower case
    Age 4/5-ish- emphasis is on penmanship effort w/ review on caps and lower.
    Basics like colors, shapes, and numbers seem to come naturally w/ craft and daily life interactions. All kids should learn at own pace as my house has read at 9 (yes, 9) and was labeled slow by public school (thrives at home, now 15), another labeled gifted for reading easily at 4, but really is a regular kid (just likes to read, lol).
    Sorry so long *blush* this was meant as a simple input ;^)

  11. Oh don't apologize for a long comment! I need this conversation to help me think everything through. Thanks for jumping in!

  12. Around our house we just do "school" In fact, I had to begin emphasizing that word to the kids because the older ones would candidly tell other adults that they did not do school (: We have a learning lifestyle... we discuss the stuff all the time, and for the most part the conversations include all of them. I feel if God has placed a question in one of the kids, it's a good time for me to answer it for all of them- partly because I know that I would not necessarily get around to that question again with another kiddo...
    I have always left the learning for the younger kids as "interest" directed as I can. In other words, if they have a book they want to read, then I point out letters or words to them in the book, or colors, or animals, or whatever seems appropriate. We try to count or order things that occur naturally thoughout our day, and the same for science. This year our older 4 are doing a history course together, with the responsive homework at thier own level, and sometimes Chloe even jumps into those. She has a few collage pages from different states, and was trying to recite a part of the "big kid's" poem.
    That's basically it in a nutshell. God has given us so much to learn from throughout our lives that I find I'm never at a loss for ideas, just sometimes I don't have the time or resources to make all my ideas work right then.

  13. I'll be starting my third child on "kindergarten" next fall. Right now he does "hit or miss" preschool with us. LOL

    Having said that, he can count to 20, knows all his letters by site (upper & lower), colors (even colors like purple & pink) & shapes. I never set out to teach him any of those things. He has learned thorugh osmosis as I like to say - the same as his older brothers.

    What I did for my middle son & what I plan to do for my younger son is buy the Rod & Staff PRESCHOOL series of books - yup - preschool. They are great & very inexpensive - around $15 for 5 books. They will help him with his cutting & pasting & matching. I may even buy a kindergarten math book at Wal-mart to mix it up a bit with him or start him on the Math-U-See Primer - I haven't really decided that far ahead yet.

    My biggest goal will be to teach him to LOVE learning. Then I'll plop him in to first grade & we'll be good to go. Teach them to like to learn & teach them how to learn & all the rest is just gravy. ;-)

    Hope this helps some!

  14. This is a hard question and one I have also been contemplating lately. I enjoyed reading the wealth of info from all the commenters.

    Most public school seem to have lost thier minds a little when it comes to kindergarten. It has changed so much from the time my oldes, now 17, attended until now when Paige has just started. The occupational therapist that Paige see's told me she thinks it is ridiculous and the school is asking kids to perform actions that were not even thought about until they were 7 or 8 a few years ago. No wonder some kids are so stressed out.

    I agree we should let our kids learn at their own pace and encourage the love of learning. I'm just really not sure how to accomplish that???

    Good luck!

  15. Hi...thanks for commenting on my blog. This topic interest me as well since I have an almost-five-year-old son. I totally agree with Mama Teaching 2 in that we should meet our children where they are. Then the trick is to find ways to challenge them without stressing them. The beauty of homeschooling is that we have the time and freedom to do just that. :)

  16. Seeing as how we start all our children a year late, kindergarten looks like any other day of the year. Lol. We don't even have "grades" in our home school. We use unit studies, and even the littlest one joins in. Then they flit off when they're sufficiently challenged.

    That said, I will teach what my 5yo is interested in, even though he's not eligible for K until hext year.

    Boy, that's not really an answer, is it? I guess I should say it looks different for each child, depending on his interests and learning level.



  17. My second child, dd age 4, is a kindergartener this year at home (my first also did K at home). This is her first year to do any real schooling. We're using the Get Ready, Set, and Go for the Code books (she's about done with the last of these) and will do Explode the Code next "semester". She also practices her writing skills, does some math in the Rod and Staff 1st grade books (these are really slow, it's not normal "1st" grade level), and does the Winter Promise Animals and Their Worlds curriculum along with her 2nd grade sister (it has adaptations for the older student since it is meant for pre-K through 1st grade). We listen to the Classical Kids music CD's, do Le Clase Divertida Spanish, and simple learning activities such as the Bambino Luk, puzzles, etc... . It's hard to find as much time as I'd like to work one-on-one with her because I also have a 2 YO and an 11 MO and hubby is deployed, but she's progressing even with our limited work time.

  18. I almost forgot, I also use Phonics Pathways with her, and she has some Kumon workbooks for practicing cutting, pasting, and tracing.

  19. well, hmmm...we're doing homeschool kinder with my middle child and compared to the public kinder my oldest went to, it doesn't seem like much. But that's okay. There's no pressure and we're just going at her pace. There aren't expectations of her that are beyond her developmentally and nothing political to have to consider. It's nice! And, she gets her rest instead of having to get up at "O'dark too-early" to catch a bus! My oldest had a fabulous teacher in public school though and he learned so quickly. But, he is a first-born child and is always trying to do more and be the best. I am using Sonlight's "kindergarten curriculum" with my middle child and had wanted to supplement more arts/crafts with it, but I find we run out of time to do all I want to do. She seems to be doing fine anyway. I am glad to see that we already do in everyday life the little "developmental activities" listed each week in the curriculum. So, I guess we're just learning as we go. You told me too at the beginning of the year, just to set some goals for each child. I did for her: to be able to read (sound out letters and blend them into words), and count to 20 and do some basic math (MathUSee has been wonderful for her and she's already finished the primer much faster than I expected just going at her pace), tell time, and enjoy good books together and maybe be exposed to history and some science (we're doing Jeannie Fulbright's Botany all together), and a little art and music, and then reading the Bible together.
    I have 1 more child-a 3yo-and I'm trying to figure out what to do with her next year. Do I try to do a "curriculum" with her or not? I think, after reading the other comments (they've all be great by the way!), we'll just continue with the "learn by osmosis" plan that we've been doing this year. They all pick up what they need when they're ready, right?

    Good question Brenda...lots to think about. Thanks!


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)