What does Kindergarten Ready really mean? The term is a generic term people throw around when talking curriculum. Specifically it is used to describe educational programs that children are in before they reach Kindergarten.
I bring up this question up after reading the article The red flags for virtual Pre-K in Indiana. Did you know Indiana wants to invest a million dollars of it’s preschool budget on a virtual pre-k program? In theory this sounds like a great program. Expanding education to children who might not be able to get into a classroom at the Pre-K level is genius. When you look at it closer, this may not be the best choice for the three, four and five year olds in Indiana or your life.
Who’s My Teacher?
Do you remember how old you were when you learned the ABCs? I’m not talking about reading, but that moment in time when you realized that an A was an A and a B was a B? My 4 year old son who has been in a brick and mortar preschool since two and a half, just now is recognizing words and letters. Most notably he sees the first letter of his name and “reads his name” often even if the word doesn’t actually happen to spell out his name. Why is this important?
I know personally my son knows more letters in the alphabet than I could have probably taught him. I’m college educated and have many teachers in my family so I know the importance of early education. However I know the real reason why my son is already “reading” at age 4.
Big shocker, it’s not me.
It’s because I have left it up to a professional teacher to do it.
Sounds simple, but I see it in my own procrastination with housework. I have good intentions. I would even schedule it out on a calendar. And yet somehow something always comes up to push back or move my intended tasks to other times and dates.
Education in my eyes is not something we should be rescheduling.
So, how effective is this program if you can’t enforce that the kids are actually doing the work? AKA, how much money are you “wasting” on a child that might not even actually do the work?
I’ve always wondered how people learn how to speak a foreign language program. I know by watching and repeating one could probably pick up the basics, but is a computer program smart enough to be able to work on Sound recognition?
One drawback to the computer programs I’ve seen used at our local school used with our kinder and first graders is that sound recognition is not something that can be checked by the computer program. Yes, you can repeat a sound back to a computer, but if there is no one on the other end to correct your child’s verbal answer then what’s the point?
I know personally I have had troubles with word pronunciation and I’m pretty sure from all the people I know that someone out there has been pronouncing words wrong their entire life due to the local lingo they are used to hearing.
Hand Eye Coordination
As much as I want to say learning to use a computer will help with a kid’s hand and eye coordination, I can’t say this is a good thing at that age. Most of the preschool projects that my children have brought home over the years have been all about picking up the fine motor skills that they learn as toddlers in preparation for being able to write. Many include gluing pieces of paper on other pages, stringing objects onto a string, cutting with scissors and even holding a crayon the correct way as well as learning to color inside the lines.
What computer program is going to work on those things?
Our neighbor mentioned the other day that her two year old doesn’t have any friends. I immediately suggested three or four different places where he might be able to socialize with kids his own age. I know in our family the friends and the interaction only really started after school started. We didn’t stay at home all the time though. There were:
- the odd open gym at the gymnastics place
- story-time at the library
- the odd play-date
Any time I could find a place where other little kids might be, I took advantage and built a social schedule for my little ones!
While this type of thing can be done in addition to a computer program one of the things I wanted most from my son’s school experience was to get him used to dealing with other people. Most important on this list was to include kids his own age. It wasn’t until my son entered his own class that he had a full set of friends his age. He always was around siblings of his older sister or cousins that were his age, but the pattern of seeing his own classmates was what got his socialization skills going.
No computer program that I know can help teach that.
What’s the answer?
I watched a documentary series a few months back called Keeping Up With The Joneses. It was about a Cattle Ranch and the family who runs it in a remote location in Australia. The whole day-in-the-life of a rancher style show was interesting in itself. The one part that I thought was absolutely genius was when they took their 5 year old son to town. Actually it was a big deal for him to meet his kindergarten or first grade class. I can’t remember if it was one or the other, but it was his first real year of school. He was going to be home-schooled throughout the year via a program similar to Skype. The first day of school though was a real life meet and greet with his teacher and his other classmates.
The genius of this program unlike the ABCmouse.com type curriculum is that the teacher and student are connected. While he can’t sit in their classroom, I’m sure that there is a scheduled school day. In his situation interacting throughout the educational experience this way is the only way he could get a classroom feel on the ranch.
Even if virtual is the wave of the future educational system, the author of the article I read says that we must not forget…