“Welcome to Kindergarten. You’ll be playing the role of the Dumb Kid. Give it a few weeks, and you’ll have built a life-long hatred of learning.”
Yep, that’s what’s happening every August in a public school near you.
Little Jimmy’s parents thought he’d learn his ABC’s in Kindergarten, so it never occurred to them to teach him.
20 years ago, kids were carried into their first day of school in traveling pet cages. Kindergarten consisted of teaching us not to bite each other or throw feces. First grade was for learning one’s own name.
Then educated parents began to realize that learning shouldn’t wait until the age of 5, and more and more kids started showing up in Kindergarten having already read Moby Dick in the original French (“Le pénis de Mobois”).
Then there are the other kids– the kids with immigrant parents, uneducated parents, or parents who just didn’t get the memo entitled “You are a Complete Failure if You Don’t Produce a Child-Genius”.
Those kids show up on the first day of school, sit next to the kid who’s writing an orchestra in pink crayon, and wonder why they’re so stupid.
Meanwhile, the school labels those kids “ADHD”, slaps a muzzle on them, and goes on celebrating the accomplishments of the so-called “smart kids”.
In my daughter’s school, they placed each child’s picture next to the number of sight words they know. There’s a small cluster in the “less than 5” group, a huge cluster in the “20-50” group, and a small cluster in the 200+ group. It’s all about how many words they ALREADY know–not how many they have LEARNED.
You probably think I’m whining because my kid is on the “less than 5” board. Nope. Just the opposite.
I have to admit, my first reaction was, “Yay! She’s on the 200 board!”….and then I met the mother of one of the kids on the under 5 board. She hates school. She thinks she’s dumb. Actually, she’s a really smart kid, but good luck convincing her now.
The thing is…I’m not sure what’s happening to my daughter is any better.
My daughter gets praised for knowing things that she knows only because I’ve been teaching her since she was 2. She ends up loving school, which is great, but also being terrified of doing anything she’s “not good at” (a.k.a not experienced with).
I don’t have a solution. Educated parents will always give their kids an edge, but I do know that schools need to start listening to the science and start praising kids for what they have learned instead of what they already know.