Saturday, April 18, 2015

Force-Feeding Knowledge

April 18, 2015
OK, time for the soapbox (= long post). I keep hearing about how necessary Universal Pre-K is so our kids can be READY TO LEARN by the time they get to Kindergarten. As if developing their brains by experiencing the world isn’t enough of a basis for learning.
I’m tired of hearing it. So here goes:
Here is a quote from a guest column to the Idaho Statesman by Rod Gramer, President of Idaho Business for Education:
“A review of district test scores indicates that 52 percent of the students enrolled in this pre-K program were advanced in reading based on the state assessment compared to 19 percent who were not enrolled.
“In math, 41 percent of the pre-K students were advanced on assessment compared to 30 percent who were not enrolled in pre-K.”
Huh? Thirty percent of the kids who were not enrolled in pre-K were advanced on assessment. That actually sounds like a pretty good average for no intervention whatsoever.
But my main question is, What’s the big rush? How many of us Boomers learned to read or do math before Kindergarten? (Besides one of my sisters, who learned to read at age 4 because my other sister came home from school and taught her.) As I recall, we learned our colors and numbers in Kindergarten, but they didn’t pull out the big guns—math and reading—until first grade. And we all somehow muddled through. I, myself, did not learn to read until the ripe old age of six; by this guy’s standards, I was practically geriatric! But I managed to graduate from college and have held a number of responsible jobs, despite that handicap.
If you’re worried because kids are sitting around watching TV or not experiencing life for other reasons, I think that that is a valid concern. But please stop trying to force kids to learn before they’re ready. While some kids are perfectly capable of learning at age 4, some of them just aren’t ready. And forcing the issue isn’t going to help.
And if you insist on “intervention”, research Parents as Teachers. It is a wonderful organization that lets parents see how their children’s play is actually teaching them lots of things—no alphabets or testing required. (Hint—your Tupperware cabinet is a gold mine.)

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