Nonna's Favorite Quotes:

Nonna's Favorite Quotes: "The best way to make children good is to make them happy." — Oscar Wilde, author and poet

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's Not Your Grandmother's Kindergarten

This was one of my original posts. Since the start of the school year is quickly approaching (or has started in some parts of the country), I've had several requests to post it again. So here it is...

Nonna shares:
When I went to a parochial school kindergarten in the early 1950’s, the only prerequisite was age. Kindergarten was a half-day session filled with coloring, singing, snacking, napping, making stuff out of clay, finger plays, and lots of playtime in general. In the 50’s, kindergarten’s emphasis was socialization and following directions, not academics.
Preschool-productsFollowing directions… I don’t think that was one of my strong points, because one of my most vivid memories of kindergarten was the time I colored the hearts on my mother’s Valentine’s Day card orange. My teacher, Mrs. Hannon, made such a fuss about hearts being red, not orange, that I cried when I gave it to my mother (those were the days when no one cared about making children feel bad about themselves!).

When I became a teacher in the early 1970’s, kindergarten was still pretty much about socialization and following directions. The kindergarten teacher in my school was a wonderful, fun-loving woman with a child-like personality. Her classroom seemed to be a little more academically structured than the one I remembered from the 50’s, but gauging from what my first graders knew, academics was not anywhere near a priority. I remember the first day of school, when I told my first grade class to line up single file in the back of the room. Not only did most of the children not know where the “back” of the room was, I threw in the words “single file”. Tears, tears everywhere… How was I to know that “single file” (a commonly used requirement for lining up in a parochial school) would be a foreign concept to these little public school children (Oh no! I had become Mrs. Hannon!).

Mémé shares:
In the years that I taught preschool, which was before there was Sesame Street, our mornings were spent in play. We told parents that “play” was their child’s “work” and through play they would learn shapes, colors, large and fine motor skills. Ha! That is what babies are doing now in their cribs.

Nonna shares:
Let’s jump ahead to the new millennium… As kindergarten becomes more and more academic, children are required to do more and know more. In addition, many kindergartens are moving from a half-day to a full-day schedule. The requirements and expectations for kindergarteners go far past the month they turn 5. They are expected to enter kindergarten knowing the basics and be relatively adjusted to a classroom situation.

I’ve been on numerous websites finding lists of what incoming kindergarten students should be able to do in the 2000’s. Here are some examples. (OK, I’m in trouble. My husband says that there are several of these that I still can’t do. Please don’t tell Mrs. Hannon!)

• Listen to stories without interrupting
• Recognize rhyming sounds
• Pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed tasks
• Understand actions have both causes and effects
• Show understanding of general times of day
• Cut with scissors
• Trace basic shapes
• Begin to share with others
• Start to follow rules
• Be able to recognize authority
• Manage bathroom needs
• Button shirts, pants, coats, and zip up zippers
• Begin to control oneself
• Separate from parents without being upset
• Speak understandably
• Talk in complete sentences of five to six words
• Look at pictures and then tell stories
• Identify rhyming words
• Identify the beginning sound of some words
• Identify some alphabet letters
• Recognize some common sight words like "stop"
• Sort similar objects by color, size, and shape
• Recognize groups of one, two, three, four, and five objects
• Count to ten
• Bounce a ball

Source: Family Education

The bottom line here, as I see it, is that early childhood education will make a huge difference in a child’s success in school. And while some parents feel they can prepare their children for kindergarten at home, what they can’t provide is the classroom experience. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the parents’ role in preparing their children for school is vital. I created Nonna and Me products to help them do just that. But we can’t underplay the importance of a formal preschool setting. I believe that a child will benefit greatly from a combination of both. I’ve seen that combination do wonders for my own grandchildren.

That being said, I think it’s important to also address homeschooling. I applaud those parents who are educating their children at home. It takes a dedicated, structured person to take on this responsibility. I do believe that if a parent is diligent, knowledgeable, and focused on what a preschool child needs to accomplish academically, and can combine this with regular social activities such as play groups and activities at church or in the community, it can produce the same results.

Mémé shares:
Like many of us Baby Boomers who thought retirement was on the horizon - only to realize our ship was sinking and we wouldn’t make it to the horizon - I am still teaching and grateful to be doing so. That puts me in a position to observe on a daily basis what the expectations are for this next generation (yet to be named). Nonna is spot-on when she says that what happens in kindergarten doesn’t stay in kindergarten and never started there in the first place. If a child is not in pre-school (or being taught effectively at home) by age 3, that child will be far behind his peers in the learning process, which is now curriculum based rather than socialization oriented.

This is definitely not your grandmother’s (or mother's) kindergarten!

About Nonna and Mémé

Sandi Zobrest, B.A., M.Ed. (Nonna) is the founder and creator of Nonna and Me educational preschool DVDs, CDs, and books. Nonna and Me was originally created for Sandi's first grandchild. This bright and happy little girl was born prematurely and was experiencing some developmental delays in language. The “Nonna and Me ABCs” DVD and books helped her in the development of language skills. Sandi received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Mercyhust College in Erie, PA and her Masters Degree in Elementary Education from Edinboro University in Edinboro, PA. Sandi is a retired teacher currently living in Arizona with her husband, two children, and three grandchildren.
Mémé and Nonna

Nonna and Me is truly a family affair, dedicated to assisting parents by providing them with quality educational materials. I am confident that you will find Nonna and Me products to be a great tool for the 21st century preschooler.”

Mary C. Prus, B.A., MATL. (Mémé) taught and administered Early Childhood Developmental Programs in Erie, PA. for 20 years, including the Maura Smith Child Learning Center on the campus of Mercyhurst College, where she had received her Bachelor’s Degree (many years earlier). Which only proves - what goes around, comes around! Currently she is teaching sixth grade Middle School in Memphis, TN. She is a long distance grandmother to three grandchildren.

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