Should School Systems Move to Full Day Kindergarten Programs – No

I grew up without kindergarten. So, instead of napping on a classroom floor, I napped in my own bed and I got to nap when I was tired. And when I wasn’t tired, I was playing and being a kid.

Now, I didn’t grow up to be a rocket scientist or a corporate executive or even a doctor or lawyer. But, I grew up happy and healthy. And I have wonderful memories of childhood.

In my opinon full day kindergarten is little more than an overly-structured day care center sponsored by taxpayers. And unfortunately, the parent has almost no control over this “educational” environment.

Admittedly, I didn’t know how to tie my shoes, recite the alphabet or add and subtract simple numbers when I finally started school at age six. And there were a lot of other things that I didn’t know. For example, I know my parents were poor dairy farmers. I thought my parents were the most wonderful parents in the world. I thought we lived in the nicest home on the block. And I thought every child enjoyed using a sheet of waxed cardboard as a sled. I didn’t know how to swear and I didn’t know how to backtalk either. I was blissfully ignorant of the fact that some kids had new toys, not reconditioned toys, for Christmas.

Children have plenty of time to learn to read, write and figure. But, they need their early childhood to grow and to appreciate who they are and where come from. They also need sunshine and fresh air and a chance to stretch their legs and burn off energy.

In my opinion full-day kindergarten is the first stretch in assembly-line education. As a mother and grandmother, I don’t want to see my kids or grandchildren stamped and labelled any earlier than necessary.

There is absolutely no reason to force a child that is barely potty trained to conform to school district rules and schedules. So what if a child can’t read a full sentence by age six?

I think we are trying too hard to creat perfect children, and as a result we are hurting our children. School tends to strip children of their childhood priviledges. And one of the priviledges of childhood is learning through natural experience rather than structured environment.

An example might be the butterfly. Little kids are intrigued by insects. Turn a pre-school child loose in the backyard and it is sure bet they will find a bug of some sort. They will watch the bug for a very long time, sometimes actually crouching down to get nose to wing with the intriguing creature. Eventually the child will attempt to capture the bug and if successful he/she will bring the bug into the house and Mom or Dad or a grandparent will have to find a jar, put the bug into the jar and poke holes in the lid, etc. etc. Bonding, learning, discovery, excitement are all a part of the process.

Now, imagine the same first time bug experience in a structured school environment. Little Jimmy spots the bug during the 15 minute recess. He spends 10 minutes doing the nose-to-wing thing and then he tries to catch it and … the school bell rings, the teacher yells at him because he didn’t respond immediately and then she sternly explains that the ecological balance of the world will be forever destroyed if Little Jimmy has harmed one hair on the bug’s funny little body.

No bonding, no exicitement, no sharing of the moment. We just have a kindergarten kid that is in trouble for looking at a bug.

Yes, I’m going a little overboard. But, I’m trying to make a point. Children need to be spontaneous. They need some freedom to experience their environment and more importantly they need to become comfortable with that enviroment.

This can only happen before the structured educational environment begins. No teacher can allow a classroom of kids to be spontaneous.

Full day kindergarten is a great idea for parents that don’t want their children to develop naturally and it is also a great benefit for parents that don’t want to pay for private childcare. But, in my opinion, it is a very, very bad idea for the kids.