Kindergarten classes have amped up a lot according to research from the University of Virginia between 1998-2010. When I was in kindergarten we learned our letter names/sounds, number recognition, and maybe how to write our names, but now kindergarten students are expected to read sight words, read short stories, write and spell words and sentences as well as do addition, especially in Manhattan Beach. We even had nap time and play centers. Kindergarten addressed basic concepts, but definitely targeted socialization and learning how to behave appropriately in the classroom.
Recent research has found that academic expectations on kindergarten students are much higher now than in 1998 and kindergarten classrooms resembled first grade classrooms of the 90s. In 2010 verses 1998, 80% kindergarten teachers believe kids should learn to read in kindergarten verses 31% in 1998. The length of the kindergarten day has also increased in addition to the intensity of instruction. Kindergarteners even receive homework now and 29% of Kindergarten teachers use standardized tests at least once a month.
If you are unhappy about the changes, they are likely to stay with the institution of the Common Core Curriculum and the increasing competitiveness in the global job economy and job market. Unfortunately, art, music, and discovery play will suffer at the costs of full speed academic instruction.
So what are the implications and how can you help as a parent?
Not all kindergarteners are mature and not all kindergarteners learn at the same rate. Possibly the heavy focus on academics can hinder children from other types of valuable earning experiences. However, one on one tutoring can help support your child whether they are excelling and need a challenge or struggling to learn specific concepts. In a one on one setting, children can receive individualized help that targets the academic areas they are struggling with in a low stress environment at their own pace. Tutors can also provide high interest, challenging material for those students who are bored in school. Years ago, I would never have thought of offering tutoring for kindergarten students, but in today’s times there are many benefits. It is easier to catch up when the material is simple as after grade three students are expected to be able to read at a high level for understanding, make inferences and cite textual evidence as well as solve complex math that even many parents have difficulty with. Being proactive now will save lots of heartache later.