Kindergarten has become the new first grade

How do higher expectations affect young learners

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Kindergarten has become the new first grade

Mr. Koleno works on learning days of the month with kindergarten students at Myers.

Mr. Koleno works on learning days of the month with kindergarten students at Myers.

Phoebe Potter

Mr. Koleno works on learning days of the month with kindergarten students at Myers.

Phoebe Potter

Phoebe Potter

Mr. Koleno works on learning days of the month with kindergarten students at Myers.

Ali Wagner, Staff Writer

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Kindergarten was a tough year for all of us.

Not really. You may remember kindergarten being fun, and laid back with little to no work required. You might also remember nap time, and snack time, recess.

Some of these things still exist, while others, not so much.

Now, kindergarten students are expected to know how to read and write. They say that kindergarten now, looks like first grade about a decade ago, with higher expectations, and a harder curriculum.

Pennsylvania, for example, has a pretty demanding list of standards for early learners that includes things like division, estimation, using manipulatives.

“It’s as if each grade has moved a level up,” said Myers Elementary Principal Mrs. Terri Harpster.

Teachers at Myers feel the changes are due to changes in society and how early kids are prepared for learning.

“We feel that it’s more of a societal change,” said kindergarten teacher Mrs. Rhonda Winesickle when asked about the higher expectations on young learners.

“A lot of students come to kindergarten knowing their letters, and knowing their sounds,” added another kindergarten teacher Mrs. Daniel Hoffer.  “That gives us a point to start with them that’s higher than it may have been years ago.”

Can these tough expectations be too hard on young kids?

Students are now expected to do guided reading, and they are now writing three-sentence stories.”

— Mrs. Winesickle

Well it depends on how you approach it. At Myers, the approach is one of balance.

“If you balance between the social skills and the amount of school work they do, then the students should be fine,” said Mrs. Harpster.

But it’s hard to deny kindergarten looks different now from even 10 years ago.

“Students are now expected to do guided reading, and they are now writing three-sentence stories. They are learning punctuation,” said Mrs. Winesickle

Some people believe that if you start kids out so young focusing on their academics, that you could hinder their social abilities in their later years. Others say that if you balance out the academics and social skills early on, then the kids will be fine.

Aside from being expected to know how to read, kindergarten students are also introduced to math skills and languages. There is so much more pressure on younger students now than there used to be. Kindergarten students are now studying math, reading, music, Spanish and art.

Because of the newer expectations for the students, they no longer have as  much time to teach the students useful and fun things, like how to tie their shoes, doing fun crafts, or even social studies, to a lesser extent.

“Kindergarten used to be about getting the kids used to the school atmosphere,” said kindergarten teacher Mrs, Dee Trexler.  “It used to be used to be about self-regulating and adjusting to school, and now it’s a time to get here and start academics.”

 

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