I have always been very honored to be a go to person to many friends both in the education field as well as parents looking for some feedback about what is happening with children in school. While I was staying home, this meant tutoring children, attending meetings as an advocate, suggesting strategies as well as games and books. I was given a peek into how the classroom was changing significantly, then had a first hand peek when I sent my son to full day Kindergarten. A program that looked nothing like anything I had ever been taught as appropriate for this age group. By the time we moved to Pennsylvania, I knew what we wanted to see and sought it out in full force. Now back full time in education, I do see the changes and pressure. I try my very best to create a balanced classroom where learning is assessed, yet engaging and fun. These children literally have only been walking and talking now for about 5-6 years and yet we put a lot of pressure on them.
I am happy to say that my own first grader went off eagerly to school as she has done each day this school year. Unfortunately, the responses from my friends who have children in first grade in New Jersey were not feeling so great.
One mom (educator as well) writes, “I’m crying because my poor daughter cried about having to go back to school today. It does break my heart. I hate sending her back. They make these little kids work so hard because of all the assessments, and there is no time to just paint a reindeer.” (the reindeer painting is in reference to an activity we did in my classroom)
Another parent who is also a teacher writes, “ I could tell you about the amount of work my child is expected to do or how he had an emotional breakdown in the classroom where he cried for 30 minutes and threw his pencil down because he’s so frustrated with all they expect him to do. They are pushing our kids to do things that they aren’t developmentally ready for. It’s not ok! We are raising a generation of kids that hates going to school. They have anxiety at such young ages and they are under so much stress all the time. He doesn’t even have time to eat lunch. He gets 15 minutes. That’s all they can give them to eat. They have so much time to “work” during the day but only minutes to eat. It’s insanity!”
Another says , “On Sunday I was on the floor with my daughter holding her as she cried gigantic tears. I was hugging and rocking her telling her all the kids are feeling the same way. (about going back) Then she said…….It’s because it’s so hard mommy, so much work! It makes me sick.”
These are just three examples, but these are three separate districts. One thought is that New Jersey is just laying out what is heading our way soon; though I hope not. What are your thoughts on how education is changing? First grade is such an amazing year of educational growth and change. Students should be feeling pride as they work toward major accomplishments, but are they or are we just checking off the box and throwing the next task at them?