This week, we tossed three pieces of ruined furniture, and scaled back the toys and are passing on a garbage bag and two boxes to some friends. I cleared my desk of the ridiculous stacks of papers and have yet to deal with all the little doodads that seem to be replicating as we speak. We sold another piece of furniture and took photos of items to list for sale. It’s getting there!
I’m a fan of the NAEYC, which is the National Association for the Education of Young Children. One thing that screams quite loudly when you read current child development literature or that from years past, is that while we find out new things about brain development, the actual, general course of human development has changed little in the past 100 years. We live longer and we’re healthier and taller, but we all tend to follow the same developmental outline of our ancestors.
I’ve taken a child development class and while this doesn’t do a thing in the name of being considered even slightly knowledgable, it did give me this neat textbook that I can refer to. In it, there is a chart, extrapolated from a document written in 1986 by the NAEYC on developmentally appropriate practice in kindergarten classrooms. Unfortunately as few as one third to one fifth of all early childhood programs follow this educational strategy, according to my handy text here. I have no idea how spot on this information would be now, but this citation is from 1997. Some of the gems of this 1986 chart include:
(developmentally appropriate guidelines are in italics and I am comparing the same data point for each group)
– Individual differences are expected, accepted, and used to design appropriate activities
– Children are evaluated only against group norms, and all are expected to perform the same tasks and achieve the same narrowly defined skills.
– Children are expected to be mentally and physically active.
– Children are expected to sit down, be quiet, and listen or do paper and pencil tasks for long periods of time. A major portion of time is spent passively sitting, watching, and listening.
Guidance of socioemotional development:
– Teachers enhance children’s self control by using positive guidance techniques, such as modeling and encouraging expected behavior, redirecting children to a more acceptable activity, and setting clear limits.
– Teachers spend considerable time enforcing rules, punishing unacceptable behavior, demeaning children who misbehave, making children sit and be quiet, and refereeing disagreements.”
Taken from “Children” by John W. Santrock
While I definitely think that the crisis in our schools today is that testing = accountability and this strange assembly line mentality of preparing our youth for the workforce and college (how about learning for the love of it, people! we all grow up and get jobs anyways), I’m also concerned about the big push to move kindergarten to full day as the rule, rather than the exception. I’ve read more than a few school district pages and while I understand that working parents need full day (although honestly, unless the school offers after school care or the parent only works until 3:30, they still have to pay and transfer their kid to a care facility until they can be picked up), what I’ve read the most (on at least three different district sites in Dupage, Kane, and Cook counties), is that the administration wants to move to full day kindergarten to better meet the Common Core Standards curriculum guidelines – it will give them a chance to not rush through the material and build in more breaks. I’m not sure I agree with it being necessary to make a five year old be in school for seven hours a day, to meet curriculum guidelines. It also doesn’t match up with developmentally appropriate practice and I’m sort of a stickler for that! Now, for the record, Montessori kindergartens are generally full day programs, but they differ in an important way: half of the day is spent in mixed age playtime, and only half the day is officially kindergarten.
We do intend on sending Natalie to school, for I also believe that people are, for the most part, happy with their public schools. For kindergarten though, it’s important to us to homeschool her, where we know for certain that we can be appropriate for a five year old and the best part – cater what we do to fit Natalie and where she is at. This is sort of funny though, we haven’t spoken to Nat about homeschooling, but she has informed us on multiple occasions that she would like to go to school when she is 6 or 7….how convenient, hunh!?!
We are also planning on enrolling her in homeschool classes offered wherever we end up – I’ve been doing my research here and you bet this is an important component to where we are considering living! Well, I’m off to watch some tv, I’ve been pulling 14 hour mom days around here and I’m just. plain. tired.