29 November 2006

All Day Kindergarden...or All Day Babysitting?

The state of Indiana is looking long AND hard at shoving this ALL DAY kindergarden down our throats...and to what end?

Sure, we can see that fewer kids are eventually graduating, now that the state has (re)placed a more accurate way of tallying the ACTUAL numbers (the way we USED to do it). Does that mean that kids need to be in a school environment an entire day before they even get into FIRST grade? Does a full day of milk, cookies, picturebooks and naptime ensure we're going to produce a smarter class say, twelve years down the road? Personally, I don't believe so.

Now I'm one of those products of a NON-KINDERGARDEN mentality. I never attended, and my folks didn't see the purpose. They could do more for me at home...and they DID. Kindergarden was simply a "volunteer" venue, if you wish to call it that. And I would say that most of the attendees (back then) were those whose parents saw this merely as a way to not enhance what their children were learning at home, but take the place of what these kids could not get at home. Now I have no idea what the circumstances were, but I would wager that the LACK of parental involvement (for the most part) played a part in that, even way back then.

Sadly, we're seeing even more of that today. Sure the parents appear to be concerned (especially when their boy or girl is FAILING), and they love to get all up in the face of the school system, blaming THEM because their child IS getting left behind. The parents hold the educational system responsible. But whenever we use the "R" word (responsibility), aren't we talking about a TWO-WAY street here? I fully believe the schools hold up THEIR end of the "bargain" a lot more than either the parents of the students OR the students themselves. This is not to say that all students fall into this chasm...only those who are "at risk"...the chronically failing ones are the students I refer to. One thing I would be fascinated to find out would be "What do you do with those kids that FLUNK KINDERGARDEN"?...LOL!

Any school system (or district) is there for one sole purpose...TO EDUCATE. Anything else is an adjunct, an enhancement TO that educational process, and must never supplant the primary mission of that school system, which is ...(everybody now)....TO EDUCATE.

I see a mandated all-day kindergarten as just another "babysitting" service, freeing up more time these people (who pretend to be parents) seem to have in abundance already. What I've come to know is that on most any day (around my area), these "parents" ship their kids off to school, and then promptly go back to bed! Once in a while they "might" go out to snag a sale at a store (or even stay up to have the "drugs" get dropped off), but it never seems to be a productive nuance. They look at this all day gig as a godsend....(get those damn kids outta the house and leave me alone). That is NOT parenting by ANY stretch of any imagination. Neither is a lot of this so-called "daycare" out of peoples' houses....no "formal" anything about these places...just a license to babysit...no more, no less. Isn't that what the 12 year old girl up the block used to do for a dollar an hour once a week?

But I digress....

Sure, there are those that contend that we're a "2 income" society now...fine. I'm OK with that, WHEN it applies. What are we more concerned about...US raising OUR children, or strangers raising our children? Yeah, it's only ONE year, but a LOT can be learned in that year.

Whatever happened to having children entering the first grade who ALREADY knew basic numbers and letters? That was pretty much a given when we went to school. The old FLASH-CARDS...I knew them well! Seems the only FLASH CARD we see these days winds up in some DIGITAL CAMERA or THUMB-DRIVE for a computer. The children don't have to worry about not being left behind...their parents in many cases are making that possible before they even set foot into a school. We have kids in TENTH grade who can't read or write or even produce complete senteces when speaking. Can all day kindergarden erase that? Or can parental responsibility do the same job a lot better for a lot less?

Perhaps *if* the people producing all these children can be held responsible and accountable for any and all "pre-school" learning (and we're NOT talking about listening to 130 Db rap music, or hearing every swear word before the age of 4), all this full-day kindergarden funding could be better utilized to enhance the higher levels of education (grades 1-12).

When you allow all day kindergarden to TAKE THE PLACE of parenting for yet ANOTHER (formative) year in a child's life, you're basically saying that it's OK to be a lousy parent (in many cases)..ship them off to where-EVER, while the state babysits your kids.... As Devil's Advocate, I would state that the *up* side to this "might" be that these kids learn some civility and ethics at a younger age (lord knows they don't seem to be getting it at HOME), and that some of it actually STICKS with them...but even that's a long reach.

I would say that because of things like this, these parents have NO reason to gripe when the "state" begins deciding the HOWS, WHATS, WHENS, WHERES, and WHYS of their child's future....

After all, if the parents can't step up...we've got to fall back on the state, right?...and that could be one slippery slope.....

Dare we "test" our footing?


Jana said...

I started school at the age of 3.

It wasn't a public school, though.

The Air Force base that my father was stationed at offered a program for enlistees' children.

It consisted of pre-pre school (that's what I called it anyway), pre-school, and kindergarten.

It wasn't until 1st grade that I started attending public school. I remember the first day I was scared to death because I had to ride the school bus, because before then my mother always took me to school and picked me up afterwards.

Not sure if this helped me succeed later on in life, but I DID graduate with honors in the top 10% of my college class...

But, I think the MAJOR difference for me was because I went to school controlled by the military, not a public school controlled by administrators who just want to get the kids the hell out so they won't have to deal with them anymore...

Maybe public schools should take a lesson from schools controlled by military bases? I know that here at Fort Knox they have schools for all grades and from what I've seen, the schools are very involved and actually CARE about the students. They even have lock-ins sometimes during the summer months so the kids can have something fun to do, sometimes even getting the parents involved as well. It's not used as a way for the kids to be babysat so that the parents can get rid of them for a while; it's used as a way to help the children.

Just my two-cents, as usual...


B.G. (Semper Paratus) said...

I don't think it's all about the "military" aspect per se, but rather something we always called a "STRUCTURED" environment....and it came with the obligatory personal accountability....(can't blame anyone BUT yourself for YOUR mistakes as the saying went).

Granted the military DOES reinforce that part of human nature, and perhaps some people today CAN benefit from that type of learning.

It's going to be reinventing the wheel all over again, IMHO.


Jana said...

yes, I think that structured is a better word for it. I was having a hard time choosing the correct word...