Sunday, August 16, 2009

In response to your comment...

Yesterday, someone left this comment for me on this post:
Anonymous said...

I've been in Early Childhood for over thirty years, and I take issue with your comment. What's wrong with most Early Childhood programs today is that they are forcing 4 year olds to write before they are ready and many of them can't succeed and stop trying. I don't know who woke up one morning and decided to push the First Grade curriculumn down to K, and so forth, but it needs to stop. Maybe if your kids had been allowed to play more and develop some real small motor skills with clay and lego and puzzles and all those good things in preschool they would be more ready to settle down. On the other hand, that's way too big a group. I taught First Grade with 31 once and I swear there were kids in that class who I was lucky to talk to twice a day.And this was in the days when kids didn't learn to write their last names in Kindergarten and I had 3 Barbara B.s. Any chance of relief?

I started to reply in the comments section of that post, but then decided to do it here, in case anyone else shared Anonymous' thoughts/opinions.

Anon #2_

I agree with you 100%!! I long for the days when kdg. was about socialization and BEGINNING to develop the skills needed to succeed in school. Sadly, it's not like that anymore. I don't know where you live, but check out http://www.isbe.net/earlychi/pdf/iel_standards.pdf
to see the kdg. standards for Illinois. The book is 118 pages long!! If my children don't meet these standards, I'M held accountable, not their parents, not their preschool teacher, ME! And, if Obama gets his way, I'll make less money (to support my own child with!) thanks to this deficit, paired with the lack of support from my students' parents. The whole (merit pay) situation is ludicrous!

The preschool program here in IL supposedly has an academic curriculum, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what it is exactly. However, knowing that kdg. is the new 1st grade, shouldn't pre-k then be the new kdg.? Some children spend 2 years in our pre-school program. Is it too much to ask that they learn a letter or a number or a color? Hell, you can learn that by watching Sesame Street, for God's sake!

As professional educators, we both know that at 3 and 4 years old, children are not developmentally ready for a formal curriculum, but unfortunately, we don't have much of a say-so about it here. It is dictated to us that we do it, so we do it. It's not like I don't know these things, but when I have to deal with it on a daily basis, it becomes incredibly frustrating. Especially given that the parents in our community provide almost nothing when it comes to school-readiness. Most of my students don't have any books in their homes, no one is reading to them, no one is actively teaching them their numbers, letters or colors as part of their daily routine (bring mommy the blue dish, let's count how many cookies, your name starts with an R, etc. Things that you and I probably take for granted.) Most of my students don't even know what the hell their real name is because they've been called Little Man, or Boo Boo for the past 5 years. I'm not trying to be funny, it's a fact. A sad, sad fact.

Whew, sorry, let me climb down from my soapbox before I hurt myself...


11 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's me again. I wouldn't be anonymous if I knew how to retrieve my Blogger password. Anyhow... I think part of the problem is that people outside the field, and a lot of the young ones coming in, don't understand that play and learning are not mutually exclusive and there is a reason for teaching good old "readiness". The day care center I ran for 18 years was 100% low income and at any given time 60-75% of the kids were placed with us by CPS as an alternative to foster care. (Boy do I have stories!) They came to us lacking all the basics. We were proud that most of them left ready for Kindergarten. Our main focus was teaching them how to "do school" and to provide experiences that enriched their vocabularies and filled in the gaps. We did this with lots of hands-on activities, field trips, books and stories and a nice long free play with a wide variety of choices. We never did the letter of the week but when they left they had heard lots of alphabet books, had materials to write with if they wished,and had lots of exposure to environmental writing and dictation. The ones who were ready knew how to write their names and the ones who weren't ready to write usually recognized them.( The whole topic of the tendency of teachers to treat kids who can't write as kids who can't read is another topic.) And all of this was done without a drill or a ditto. If you walked in you'd see lots of blocks, sand and water, art materials, many manipulatives, books galore, dramatic play and a writing center.
Since I retired in 2000 I've been teaching adults in the field and doing a lot of technical assistance. I'm getting more and more depressed as my students tell me about the kinds of stuff they are supposed to be doing. I see classrooms without blocks, no free play,and programs pandering to parents who want their threes to have written homework. I've also been tutoring at the local primary school and have worked with lots of kids who can decode like crazy but don't understand the meaning of what they have read because they lack the experience that teaches you the difference between a lion and a tiger.I don't know what the solution is, and I wouldn't be in your shoes for millions, but maybe those of us who know what nonsense this all is need to be louder, Part of the solution is to educate parents and get someone to start a "Let my kid be a kid" movement. Until we become more vocal nothing is going to happen.

ChiTown Girl said...

Amen, Anon, Amen!!!!!

And, BTW, if our preschool program looked ANYTHING like your program, I might not be having the problems I'm having. :) Our program goes something like this: AM class - Come in, have breakfast, play on the indoor "playground" equipment (I have no problem with that, develop those gross motor skills!), have lunch, go home. PM class - Eat lunch, play on equipment, have a snack, go home.

In all the times I've ever popped into the pre-k room, I've NEVER seen the kids doing anything to work on fine motor skills, never any letter recognition or phonics, I've never even seen the pre-k teacher read to the kids. Most days she's on the phone when I come in, for Pete's sake! I don't think I've even seen the kids looking at or "reading" books. I don't know if the kids ever do any writing, I've never seen clay out, or a sand table, I've never seen manipulatives of any kind, now that I think about it. Sheesh, now I'm getting depressed all over again.... :(

I agree with you about educating our parents. Sadly, I think most of our parents (and I'm can speak only to the my school) look at our pre-k, and kdg. for that matter, as a free babysitting service. They don't value education and that is passed on to their children. Now, of course, this does NOT apply to 100% of our parents, but I believe it applies to the great majority.

Good Lord, look at me up on my soapbox again. Please, forgive me, I'm stopping now!

miss r said...

Preach it, ladies!

I'd just like my K students to come in with some basic social skills. You don't hit and kick. You don't say shut up. I'd take that over letter recognition any day.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we have the beginning of a revolution here! And does anyone know how to get my password?

ChiTown Girl said...

On the sign in page, above the box that you type your password in, there's a question mark. Click on it. That should take care of things. :)

jwg said...

THANKS

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

I cannot imagine the stress of being a teacher. At our "Kindergarten" class in Australia the teacher is teaching multiplication and division. I'm lucky that I have a child very interested in math who can keep up, but it is shocking... I never imagined they would be doing division in Kindie.

teach5 said...

Preach'n to teh choir, that's what we have here, preach'n to the choir. We all know children need play, and not only play, but UNSTRUCTURED play, or free play. They need that element of socialization. With current trends, it's not going to happen soon though. How many of your students actually get to go to pre-school? Not very many of mine do. I was dividing up some materials for the 4 kindergarten classes (should be 5, but we won't go THERE) and I went into the office and asked the registrar how many kids we were sitting at. Mind you I didn't ask for any names, just numbers. ONLY after explaining why I needed them did she give me the numbers. We are averaging 27 kids per class and still have until next Monday. Our population is like yours, a lot of them will come in next week or later to register. Who knows where we will top out at.

vannatx said...

I agree with a lot of what is being said here, but I just wanted to add that you CAN have an academic program that is totally DAP, is fun, and has good results. NAEYC recently introduced new research on what is DAP for the 21st century. It didn't surprise me to hear that this new research has proven that young children can learn much more than they were ever thought capable of. We have to remember that we are preparing our students for the 21st century, not the 20th, and the skills they will need to be productive citizens are totally different and much more rigorous than those we were taught.
I also work in an urban setting where my pre-k students come in at the 0/0/0/0 level (no letters, no numbers, no colors, no shapes). It's a shame that your pre-k teachers are not being held accountable for their student's progress. I would lose my job in the blink of an eye if my students left my classroom not being able to recognize all numbers, colors, letters, and shapes in addition to letter sounds. Don't they have any state guidelines they have to follow? We have state pre-k guidelines we have to follow, our pre-k curriculum in our district requires more of our students than our kinder curriculum. No wonder preschool teachers get less respect with those types dragging us down!

The Bus Driver said...

The sad thing we have happening here, is the push for our babies to learn learn learn, but then when they get into second and third grade.. they;re still on material they should have learned in the first grade.

My friends third grader brought home addition problems... not double digits... single digits.. like 8+2= stuff that should have been taught in first grade.. maybe it was review, but i know when i was in 3rd we did multiplication and division.

Clippy Mat said...

great dialogue on the subject. chi-chi the pre-school program you describe is a sham! and those kids are getting ripped off. i think you and anon/jwg have hit the
nail(s) on the head re ECE programs and the futility of what you are expected to teach.
your blog IS your soapbox so keep on getting up there.
:-)