Tuesday, February 8, 2011

21st Century Kindergarten

Our five-year-old grandson, Tyler, is in kindergarten.

(Generic Kindergarten class of 1956. I'm not in this picture.)
I actually remember my kindergarten days pretty clearly. Back then, in 1956, the kindergarten teachers had two classes each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I was in Mrs. Armstrong's early class. It was an action-packed three hours of finger-painting, stacking giant blocks on top of each other, bouncing large, reddish-purple rubber balls on the playground and taking a nap on a cold linoleum floor with only a bath towel beneath us.

Now that I think about it I wonder why a bunch of five-year-olds needed a nap at 10:00 a.m.?  I can only guess that the first hour and a half or so of Mrs. Armstrong's day was pretty brutal.

Barbara Billingsly as June Cleaver
We didn't do anything even remotely academic. I think kindergarten in the 1950s was just intended to help us little tykes develop social skills. And, of course, it gave our moms, the June Cleavers and Margaret Andersons of our world, a little time to get a jump on their daily cleaning and cooking in their day dresses and pearl necklaces.

Boy, have things changed!

These days, as far as I can figure, kindergarteners don't do anything that doesn't have a clearly-defined educational purpose. I think it's great. They're still developing social skills but they're also getting a head start on reading, 'riting and 'rithtmetic. Makes sense to me. In 1979 I taught my son to read two and three letter words when he was two. Now his son reads, speaks Spanish and is learning fractions at age five.


I wasn't introduced to fractions until I reached the fifth or sixth grade.

Tyler's sixth birthday is coming up soon. I talked with him about it a couple of days ago in the car.

Tyler Goold Williams,
Five and 11/12ths years old.
"Tyler, your birthday is just a little more than three weeks away!" I enthused. "Do you know how long that is?"

"Soon!" he answered precisely.

"That's right! And, how old are you going to be then?" I asked, imagining myself the Art Linkletter of the 21st century.

"SIX!" He was really excited now.

"So, how old are you now?" I inquired, trying to help his elementary concept of mathematics.


1 comment:

GeeB said...

And in a few years you won't be able to even help him with his homework. Found that out a few weeks ago with my 8 1/4 yr old second grade grandson.