...and by early, I mean YOUNG!
Our school recently held our annual Kindergarten Round Up day. Parents and their little babies *(not literal babies, mind you) tour the school, meet the teachers, and learn about the program.
In my experience as a 1st Grade teacher, I have seen the benefits of starting school at a later age, and the harm inflicted by starting too young.
Let me begin by telling you about my early "school" experience.
I was blessed with a educator mother who knew the value of play. She took a break from teaching and stayed home with my brother and I until we were both in school.
As a small child, the outdoors was my classroom and my own inquisitive mind was the curriculum. My mother would delight in guiding me to find answers to my ever growing list of questions.
"What kind of bird is that one?"
"What kind of tree is this?"
"Why does it rain?"
"What do these letters spell?"
I can still remember to this day when I finally put together a string of intelligible letters, spelling out my cousin's name.
With that being said, I did not start first grade until I was 8 years old. By that time, without any "formal" schooling, I could read, compute math correctly, and write in cursive. My teacher put me into second grade within the first 2 weeks. Luckily, I was in a multi-grade classroom and it was not a shock for me. I still had the same teacher and friends. <3
I have always LOVED school and learning.
It makes me sad when my students don't have the passion I do.
My very best year teaching was the year I had an "older" class! Five of my students were 7 when the school year started, and many more had fall birthdays. What made it different, you ask?
Let me tell you:
They were READY. Period. They could focus and sit still. They could handle being away from mommy all day long. They could handle working with partners and in groups.
They realized the world did not revolve around them alone, there were others that had needs too. They could wait their turn and share. Life was grand!
Fast forward to a year with a few "young" ones--not a whole class full mind you, but a couple are all it takes!
- Poor attention and focus
- Lack of empathy
- Poor time management
- Lack of social skills
- Lack of motivation
- Poor motor skills
- Lack of patience (*need instant gratification)
- Demand lots of attention (*often negative)
- Tears, tears, tears
You notice I did not mention academics. These children are often quite bright! They have been pushed to learn and recite their ABCs and count to 100. But they have not really developed a true love for learning. And when children are not ready to sit still, follow directions, and cooperate with others, it can lead to a poor outlook toward school. They may look around the room and notice all the other children can follow directions. All the other children can cut out the pieces nicely. All the other children can sit nicely on the carpet and not interrupt...on and on. But, why can't they? Feelings of low self-worth develop and can continue throughout their academic years.
Believe me, it is far easier to challenge a bright student that is READY TO LEARN than to discipline a bright student that can't exhibit self-control.
Please, take it from a veteran teacher, give your child the advantage--not the disadvantage in the classroom!
And please, don't consider skipping Kindergarten because your child is a genius! There is some truth to the old adage:
"All I really need to know, I learned in Kindergarten!"
First grade teachers expect that the students coming into their room have already been exposed to these things! The academic level is stepped up in first and there isn't room to teach some of the basic skills that were taught in Kindergarten!
Let's give the children time to play.
Time to learn.
Time to develop into the creations God designed them to be!