Posted by: Nancy | August 30, 2007

Kindergarten pressure

My 5yo daughter has been in Kindergarten for two and a half weeks.  It has not been easy.   I am stunned at how much pressure is put on these kids from the minute they start the first day.  Writing has to be in the right form.  My daughter knew how to write her name, but she wasn’t using the D’Nalian (sp?) alphabet, so it wasn’t right and they made her do it over.  It got to the point where she was refusing to even try.  And this was the third day of kindergarten.   When I had her practice before school on the fourth day, she burst into tears.   She was just so frustrated. 

Now we’re hearing that she’s “inattentive”.   I don’t buy it.  I think they are putting too much pressure on her and now she’s withdrawing from it. 

I was thinking that maybe it was just her.  Maybe she’s just not ready.  I had no idea kindergarten was going to be this academic.  I thought it started out easy and worked up to academic.  But not this.  This is how I remember first grade being. 

 So I started to do some looking online to see if any other parents were feeling like there was too much pressure on their child.  I was about ready to go toe-to-toe with those teachers. 

 Apparently, it’s not the teachers.  It’s a nationwide situation, and has been for a while.   Here is some interesting reading. 

  Kindergarten or Kindergrind?  – 2005 – CBSNews

 Pressure on Youngsters Starts in Kindergarten; Child Readiness an Issue – 2005 – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

 Preserving Kindergarten in a High Stakes Environment – 1999 – Harvard Education Letter

 The Misguided Trend of Delaying Kindergarten – 2004 – The Seattle Times 

 So in many kindergarten classrooms, you’ve got kids who are 5, kids who are 6 and kids who are still only 4 because they make the cutoff date, which is usually in December. 

  In my daughter’s class, there is one girl who can write and spell as well as I did in second grade.  She writes whole papers worth of stuff.   I saw two whole pages.  I thought that she was just smart.   As tall as she is though, I wonder if she might be closer to 6 than 5. 

 When we bought this house one of the reasons we bought it was that the local public elementary school was one of the highest rated in the state. 

 Highest rated.   As in ratings.  As in tests.  So this kindergarten really is exactly the type of kindergarten that these articles are about. 

 I don’t know about this…

 Of course I want my daughter to do well in school, get a good education and go to college.  But not if this is the price. 

 I spent a lot of years thinking that I was going to homeschool.  I wanted my kids to be able to get ahead academically.  Most of the public schools where we grew up were mediocre at best.   The salutatorian of our high school class wasn’t able to handle college.  None of us got a good education, and very few went on to get a degree, although a few did.  There was a lot of “social advancement” and a lot of kids slipped through the cracks. 

 I wanted my kids to be able to come the end of their high school years with the choices that a good education brings you.   Whether they wanted to go straight into the job market or go to college, I wanted it to be their choice. 

 We’ve been lucky that in the places we’ve lived since we’ve been married, that the schools have had good reputations and good ratings.  So the idea of homeschool fell by the wayside.  According to all that we read, the schools were highly interested in academics.  Which was exactly what we wanted to hear. 

 I had no idea. 

 Now I’m wondering if I should start looking into homeschooling just so my daughter can get out of the pressure cooker. 

 I don’t know what I should do though.  Because if I do homeschooling, there’s no turning back.  If this is what kindergarten is now, I have no idea what first grade will be like.  I’m sure whatever homeschooling program I do would end up with her being “behind” as far as this school is concerned. 

 Part of me wonders if I should get some homeschool-type programs to do in addition to what they’re doing in kindergarten.  To get her up to speed with what they’re expecting of the kids. 

 But with all they’re expecting of them in a three hour day, my mommy instincts just want her to have fun and play.  I don’t want her to do more school. 

 I’m on the fence with a lot of stuff right now.  Do I go back to work and not be able to be available to my kids, especially my daughter right now?  Do I tighten up our budget even more and focus on getting her up to speed? 

 My husband had to repeat kindergarten.  His cousin’s son also had a hard time in Kindergarten and we just heard tonight that he isn’t doing well adjusting to a full day of first grade this year. 

 My husband says that maybe she’ll end up being held back too.  But if she’s really not ready, I’d rather pull her out sooner rather than later.  I don’t want to see her struggle and fail, struggle and fail, struggle and fail all year only to see her be told that she still didn’t do it well enough. 

 I never thought I’d be worried about all of this.  It’s not even September yet. 




  1. You made me think.
    We’ve choosen for our children a special kindergarten that was focussed on playing.
    When the children saw that the teacher put a name on the drawings, they started asking. So they found out what a name is, and how useful it is when you can write. So they learned it without pressure in no time.

    It feels like the school you describe doesn’t give the children much time to adjust.

    I’m living in The Netherlands and we say here that good quality schools are no friendly schools, because they throw out the children than won’t meet the high standards they’ve set.
    So in fact it says nothing about the education but a lot about how they treat children.

    We’re not allowed to homeschool here, so the only way was to question what was going on.
    I made them think, and I still do.

    For a child to write it should have not only the fine motorskills that are needed. Writing a name is just making a drawing on command.
    So any language skills they expect are non present.

    I’ve studied homeschooling from here and I’ve seen that the results are very good. I guess because children have a strong inner urge to learn new things and when you grant them the enthousiasm that comes with spontaneous learning they can get very far. (Montessori principle)
    Homeschooled young people do as well as school-schooled young people when they apply for college. On top of it they do better in working together, flexibility and some other characteristics, like independency.

    The decision comes down to what you and your husband expect for her.
    Do you want her to have high grades and a topjob with hopefully lots of money too, or do you want a person who’s able solve problems with regard to the needs of people, who’s happy with what’s available in life, who lives close to nature.

    It’s not mutual exclusive ofcourse.

    I’ve seen what bad schoolexperiences can do for a child. A positive approach is very important to all people.

    BTW I have tagged you…

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