I volunteer at my daughter’s preschool. What I see makes me sad. Not only do I believe preschool is not meant to be preparation for Kindergarten, but it is stifling our children and possibly doing harm to them. I might extrapolate this belief out even further when I see her in Kindergarten next year. I will preface this by saying that I am bashing teachers or the profession(I’m an ex-HS teacher), and while I could teach my daughter kindergarten, I know that is not my talent or part of my mission in this world. I am saying that our modern beliefs about school are hurting our children. I will explain what I mean.
My daughter is being taught and participates in circle time, story time, arts and crafts, following directions, social and emotional skills and self management at a play-based preschool. What makes me think that this is bad for her? Its the way that it’s taught. First off, there is not enough movement. I see, especially the boys, struggling with sitting still, paying attention and listening. They are often reprimanded, when I believe they are just being boys. I honestly don’t think circle time is appropriate for boys at this age, and it is only introduced so they can be successful in kindergarten. All they want to do is wrestle, play, run and take things apart. I believe in this way we are going against their natural inclinations and instead of capitalizing on their pedagogical development we are stifling it. There is a child in particular, who is not bad, but has the energy of what I could only imagine extreme sport participants have, get constantly reprimanded for being what I see a little boy. He is going to have a rough time in school and I pray that he will enjoy school in the future.
Preschool is meant for 4 year olds and not for Kindergarten. People believe that skills need to be taught in advance to “set” them up for success. But I believe this is wrong, in the fact that we should treat them like preschoolers, not kindergarteners. Four year olds are wild, imaginative, playful, active, silly and are testing the world’s boundaries of right and wrong. According to Louise Bates, four is the most violent time and time for asserting their power. But I often see this stifled. I believe there should be fun sword play, kids allowed to go up the wrong way on the slide, wrestling, and teaching appropriate touch (not just hands to self) and allowing them to move quickly. Now I understand the legalities behind some of these things and why they are not promoted in preschool, but often times they are also not allowed at home either. People think it’s feminism squashing our males and turning them into “sissies”, but I see it starting at home and in school. Boys, especially, are not provided an appropriate outlet for their energy. A friend, who teaches Kindergarten, commented that kids have no motor skills and are falling down when they run. I believe this starts when we start constricting their movement and motor skills from birth – from hand mittens to sleep sacks that don’t allow them to turn over. Why do you think baby helmets are the norm now?
What would my preschool be like if I chose to open one? One filled with “dangerous” stuff that most parents are fearful about. One that incorporates cooking, cutting, adventure, bugs, wrestling, movement, obstacle courses, nature, taking things apart, building things, being silly, telling tall tales, and learning about different life things: money, repairs, defending oneself, and introduce them to new things and development of sense of self.
Do I think these parents, teachers or schools are bad or even ignorant? No. Would my curriculum be hard to introduce to the masses? Yes. But I do think our society promotes things that are “safe” and for the common denominator versus would would make a child excel. This is why I also think we are doing so poorly in overall education. So while I side eye our education system and even “safe” helicopter parenting, you can side eye my parenting skill too.