Sunday, September 5, 2010

Kindergarten is the New Military School

Here's an utterly depressing article about kindergarten in the Washington, D.C. area: Surviving Kindergarten. The curriculum keeps getting pushed younger and younger. Daily homework has become the norm for 5 year olds. The author concludes that the tedious busywork her daughter is doing in preschool will at least prepare her for kindergarten.

One "moderate" voice in the article came from Joan Almon of the Alliance for Childhood. Just for laughs, I went over to the Alliance for Childhood site and found this allegedly helpful article: Helping Your Kids Avoid Stress. Joan Almon is quoted again:

"I always hear about third and fourth grade," she said. "A friend had her twins in first grade last year, and the teacher said, 'I love teaching first grade because the children are so alert and interested in everything. I look across the hall at fourth grade, and the light is out.'

The article is, IMHO, useless, because it doesn't consider the possibility that the school needs to change, and instead gives the usual patronizing advice about avoiding extracurricular commitments.

I know I'm repeating myself, but why do parents put up with this? I'd like to see a parents' strike, where a group of parents announce that homework is completely inappropriate for kindergarten, and they won't do it.


  1. Why do parents (especially mothers) put up with this? My daughter's kindegarten was indeed a military experience. Instead of being angered by this less than nurturing environement; the mothers fretted about their child being singled out for not keeping up with the rest of the kids. The mothers blamed themselves if their child couldn't keep up or follow the rigid rules. The new norm of intensive mothering along with rigid authoritarian schools has created a really toxic elementary school environement.

  2. "The new norm of intensive mothering along with rigid authoritarian schools has created a really toxic elementary school environement."

    FABULOUS summary. Succinct, hard hitting and so true.

  3. I read the article. Not a word from Joan Almon about homework overload and resulting stress and strain. I can control the activities, make sure daughter was not overscheduled, I can take her out to play, to the library, the zoo and museums. I can make sure we have endless family dinner discussions about books and bugs, I can take her to the opera and ballet and Physics is Phun.

    But I can't do any of that if she is overburdened with homework, much of it useless. Well, I suppose I can but not without a fight and a headache. It's time to lecture the outside forces and trust I know what to do with my child in our free time. These so called advocates aren't much good if they wimp out when we need them most.

    Didn't the Alliance for Childhood underwrite the StopHomework blog? And the group came out strongly against NCLB some years ago. I've often wondered why their fight lacks teeth, why despite their expert advice, our society is hell bent on this destructive course.

    Now I know why. From what I see, they are barely forceful. You know the expression, killing a fly with a baseball bat? They seem to be bailing out the ocean with a teacup.