Parenting

6 Reasons Why Kindergarten Is Sucking the Soul Out of Your Child

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), speaks during an election day news conference at the DCCC Headquarters in Washington on Nov. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The results are in and they are frightening. A new study titled “Is Kindergarten the New First Grade” reveals that five year olds are being loaded down with textbooks, workbooks and worksheets at the expense of self-guided free play. What does that mean in the long run? It means that kids are stressed out, hating school and losing confidence in their ability to learn. Here’s why:

  1. Expectations of students have risen across the board. Kindergarteners were already expected to have strong self-regulation and social skills. Now they’re supposed to be even better behaved. They’re also expected to be pre-schooled readers and writers to boot.
  2. Music, art and theater are suffering, especially for the sake of math and science. This is no big surprise given that the arts are always the first to be cut for budgetary reasons. With the federally mandated push for STEM education, teachers have to budget their time effectively.
  3. Despite the emphasis on STEM, kindergarten classrooms surveyed reported a decrease in math- and science-related play areas like water and sand tables and nature areas. The use of textbooks to teach has doubled, which means that today’s five year olds are expected to read thoroughly enough to study subject matter. They’re also expected to trade in hands-on learning experiences for book work.
  4. In fact, there’s been a huge drop in child-selected activities in favor of group instruction. Gone are the days when kindergarteners were required to make choices and motivate themselves into learning experiences. They aren’t even expected to pair up on their own to study common interests. The teacher has once again become the marm in the matter; the students must behave accordingly.
  5. Children are now evaluated primarily on their achievement relative to peers and mandated standards. Their individual accomplishments are constantly being valued based on the opinions of state and federal lawmakers and how the kids sitting next to them fared. Forget doing your “best.” If the girl next to you scored higher in math than you did, you might as well not do anything at all.
  6. The change in curriculum has created such a stressful academic environment that students are at risk of losing their motivation to learn as well as their self-confidence to achieve. In fact, kids’ attitudes towards school altogether are spiraling downward. Who would want to spend their entire youth in the academic equivalent of the Miss America Pageant?

What’s motivating these big changes in public education? Parents who protest Common Core are already far too familiar with the death of free play in public schools. However, curriculum changes that have turned kindergarten into College Prep 101 started with George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind, a program that used standardized testing scores as the tradeoff for federal dollars. Obama’s push for our students to compete with Chinese kids (who are committing suicide in huge numbers due to academic pressures) is just the icing on the cake.

The problem with kindergarten today isn’t so much what our children are learning as it is how they’re expected to learn. Every parent wants a well-rounded education for their child. What they don’t want is for their independent, imaginative, curious child to become a pencil-pushing bureaucrat by the time he hits double-digits. Unfortunately, that’s what this generation of students may become if parents don’t get involved in their children’s education.