This post was written by Ryan Johnson. Image Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock
When I was in Kindergarten, it was broken up into half days. For the first part of the school year, I went to Kindergarten in the mornings. For the second half, I went in the afternoons. There was no such thing as Pre-K.
Now, not only is there Pre-K, but there are classes you can enroll your child in to get him or her prepared for Pre-K. The New York Times has profiled an educational tutoring program called Kumon that's gaining in popularity, and you can enroll your child in it as young as 2 years old.
It's designed to introduce reading, writing, and basic math to children so that they're better prepared to enter Kindergarten when the time comes. But I wonder: Does that mean that children in Kindergarten will be learning what we did in third grade? By the time they reach middle school, will they have moved on to calculus and molecular biology? What will be left to learn in college?
I understand that the competition in school is fierce and the chance to enroll your child in a good college is hard to come by, but it makes me sad to think that childhood focuses more on homework and multiplication tables than it does playing in the dirt and breaking through your friends' arms in an intense round of Red Rover, Red Rover.
One mother interviewed in the article said that in addition to enrolling her children in Kumon, she also has them in karate, art, music, German, and swimming. I assume this is to keep her children as well-rounded as possible. Does she schedule time for stretching their imagination and pretending, too, or is that practice totally outdated now?
I firmly believe there is just as much value in playing outdoors with a group of friends as there is in learning the alphabet. I also believe that the social lessons learned in childhood, like getting along with others and sharing your toys, may even be more valuable.
I read to my daughter every day. We listen to music and are now finding our nose and belly button. And next year, when she hits the 2-year milestone, you can find us on the playground. She has the rest of her life to study, stress over grades, and worry about her future. Now, she needs to bask in the joy of being a child.