Tomorrow I’m heading to our district’s informational meeting for incoming Transitional Kindergarten (TK) parents. For those unfamiliar, it’s essentially a year of Pre-K, taught within our school district, for the kids not quite old enough to start Kindergarten that year. A free year of preschool.
Already, friends of mine are buzzing around getting ready for the new school year. Talking about academic readiness, chatting about sight words, discussing flash cards.
Both of my daughters have fall birthdays. Because of this, they miss the cut off for Kindergarten by a hair, so they’ll be on the older end of the kids in their class. They’ll both qualify for TK, which I’m totally grateful for. When the TK program rolled out, those parents thought they were getting the short end of the stick. Their incredibly smart, academically advanced, perfect spawn were getting deprived by the school district and being forced to delay the start of “real” academics. Now, however, the research and the buzz on the playground is showing a huge advantage for the kids who receive this extra year.
Will they work on numbers and letters? You bet. But, more importantly, they’ll get to learn social skills, how to follow instruction, and classroom fundamentals that will enhance their love of learning for (hopefully) decades to come.
I was the youngest in my class. I was reading at 4 and academically ahead of most kids my age. Guess what. That doesn’t mean a kid is socially and emotionally ready to start school. There will always be exceptions, but I strongly believe that phonics and math can be taught just as easily at 5 or 6 or 7, but the foundation of a love of learning needs to be established from the very beginning.
So, we aren’t rushing these things. We don’t do flash cards. We talk about math as she sees it in real life applications (baking, lining up flowers/sticks/blocks, asking for more M&M’s, etc). We read books every night. We sing and rhyme and make music. We chat about the moon, grow a garden, and combine different bath fizzies to see what color combinations result in. We visit the farm and the zoo and the beach. We discover.
We’re not rushing childhood.
We have so much time for formal education. Right now, we’re going to sit back and soak up as much playtime as we possibly can.