Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The New First Grade: Too Much Too Soon?

I was taking a break and saw this Newsweek article: The New First Grade: Too Much Too Soon?

This must stop!

"Sept. 11, 2006 issue - Brian And Tiffany Aske of Oakland, Calif., desperately want their daughter, Ashlyn, to succeed in first grade. That's why they're moving—to Washington State. When they started Ashlyn in kindergarten last year, they had no reason to worry. A bright child with twinkling eyes, Ashlyn was eager to learn, and the neighborhood school had a great reputation. But by November, Ashlyn, then 5, wasn't measuring up. No matter how many times she was tested, she couldn't read the 130-word list her teacher gave her: words like "our," "house" and "there." She became so exhausted and distraught over homework—including a weekly essay on "my favorite animal" or "my family vacation"—that she would put her head down on the dining-room table and sob. "She would tell me, 'I can't write a story, Mama. I just can't do it'," recalls Tiffany, a stay-at-home mom. "

Wait a minute! She is how old... lets review: "But by November, Ashlyn, then 5, wasn't measuring up. " FIVE YEARS OLD!!!

"In the last decade, the earliest years of schooling have become less like a trip to "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" and more like SAT prep. Thirty years ago first grade was for learning how to read. Now, reading lessons start in kindergarten and kids who don't crack the code by the middle of the first grade get extra help. Instead of story time, finger painting, tracing letters and snack, first graders are spending hours doing math work sheets and sounding out words in reading groups. In some places, recess, music, art and even social studies are being replaced by writing exercises and spelling quizzes. Kids as young as 6 are tested, and tested again—some every 10 days or so—to ensure they're making sufficient progress. After school, there's homework, and for some, educational videos, more workbooks and tutoring, to help give them an edge. "

Now I'm all for learning how to read... the key word here is LEARNING. They are 4, 5, 6, 7 year old kids.... Give them a chance to learn. I love reading with my daughter and neices and nephews. Hearing them read aloud is great. Helping them read is even better. Sound out the word - and yeah, I will help.

"Parents are acutely aware of the pressure on their kids, but they're also creating it. Most kids learn to read sometime before the end of first grade. But many parents (and even some teachers and school administrators) believe—mistakenly—that the earlier the kids read independently, write legibly and do arithmetic, the more success they'll have all through school. Taking a cue from the success of the Baby Einstein line of videos and CDs, an entire industry has sprung up to help anxious parents give their kids a jump-start. Educate, Inc., the company that markets the learning-to-read workbooks and CDs called "Hooked on Phonics," just launched a new line of what it calls age-appropriate reading and writing workbooks aimed at 4-year-olds. In the last three years, centers that offer school-tutoring services such as Sylvan Learning Centers and Kumon have opened junior divisions. Gertie Tolentino of Darien, Ill., has been bringing her first grader, Kyle, for Kumon tutoring three times a week since he was 3 years old. "It's paying off," she says. "In kindergarten, he was the only one who could read a book at age 5." Two weeks ago Tiffani Chin, executive director of Edboost, a nonprofit tutoring center in Los Angeles, saw her first 3-year-old. His parents wanted to give him a head start, says Chin. "They had heard that kindergarten was brutal" and they wanted to give him a leg up. "

OK - Number 1 - BABY EINSTEIN SUCKS! They have proven that. Its not good for babies. No TV is good for kids. My mistake there but I'm a sucker for Seseme Street but I watch it with her and talk to her about whats going on.

Number 2 - "heard that kindergarten was brutal"... oh yeah - snack time, and nap time and story time... brutal. I want to go to school with daughter and have nap time.

I have about had it with the idea of giving the kid a leg up - a chacne to get ahead. Please! They are kids. They learn more by play and experience than by workbook. Erin is 3 1/2 years old - learning letters because she wants to write like mommy. She is counting and learning simple math (I have 3 cookies and I ate 1 - now have this many - holding up 2 fingers - I'll save the others for later). I didn't force that on her.. she wants COOKIES!! She wanted to keep a few for later.
"If you push kids too hard, they get frustrated," says Dominic Gullo, a professor of early education at Queens College in New York. "Those are the kids who are likely to act out, and who teachers can perceive as having attention-span or behavior problems." Why does this sound so familar? Do you think that so many kids are diagnoised with ADHD and the like is because of the educational system?

In this age, we should be letting Kids play - socialize, fall down, get back up, take naps, run around, learn about bugs, figure out right and wrong, learn how to cross a street. I will not let my daughter get school burn out by the time she is in the 3rd grade. NO! NO! NO!

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