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By Renée Smith | j&R Tutoring Academy of Indiana

Do we need standards? Yes, we do. There has to be continuity in what is taught in kindergarten and each year following – at least until the ninth grade. Additionally there are valid reasons to teach the alphabet before reading; numbers before math, etc. Some of these steps fall into the “no brainer” category.

The problems enter when we establish rigid time frames to teach each skill. Not to belabor the point, but young children develop and mature at different rates. One child may learn numbers easily and struggle with the alphabet, or vice-versa. Some learn both quickly and easily and some have trouble learning anything.

Many of these differences may not become apparent until a child has completed a year or two of formal schooling. Some children are less mature than others and do just need a year or two to catch up.

Children who attend a pre-school may have an early advantage over those who have not.

A child who turns five just before the beginning of kindergarten is 60 months old. That child could easily be in class with a child who turns six the first week after school begins. The second child is 72 months old. The second child is nearly 20% (.16666666+) older than the first! In the early years the differences in age and maturity are so much more significant.

And these only scratch the surface of areas where young children differ!

One of the more popular comparisons in recent years is to compare a difficult job to herding cats. I think we might be able to consider early elementary teachers cat herders!

In a room full of five and six-year-old kindergartners, there are likely as many different stages of development as there are children. Yet, by the end of the year the teacher is expected to educate each child to meet the standards as detailed in the Common Core. In many states failure to accomplish this now reflects on the teacher.

Although we want the best educators teaching our children, there are many elements over which even the best teacher has no control. Simple things like getting enough sleep or eating breakfast are crucial to learning.

And let us not underestimate the stress these mandated learning standards have on the children. Kindergarten used to be that year when kids learned the basics of education and socialization. Now if the child has not been able to attend a pre-school, kindergarten is a huge shock!

Are we ruining childhood? To what end?

Still more to come . . .