4 Year Olds Do Not Belong in Kindergarten

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Some research suggests that children who enter kindergarten later perform better on standardized tests, but critics contend that family background and preschool experience often have a bigger influence on academic success than age. In any case, they say, such benefits disappear by middle school. – New York Times

I read the article quoted above intently because I was a 4 year old that went to Kindergarten in Connecticut back in 1963. The article is set in Connecticut, but also talks about the whole United States age requirements for Kindergarten. The whole gist of the arguments one way or the other is the development of the children and the income level of the parents. The critics for the most part continue to beat the “low income can’t afford preschool” drum to get support, while at the same time trying to tell people that the gains of leaving students at home until they are emotionally ready for the rigors of today’s Kindergarten is wasted later in the k12 levels.

One major flaw in this theory is that parents feel that once in school the responsibility is off of them and completely on the school districts. While not all parents think this way, I see it a lot everyday to know that it is a problem that we need to look at. Parents need to spend time with their children, it’s their responsibility, it can’t be abdicated to the schools and expect your children to magically learn without your help when they are at home.

Speaking from the experience being a 4 year old in Kindergarten, I can tell you that the critics of holding children out until they are 5 are completely wrong. I was smaller than all my peers all the way through school and felt intimidated. I also was not ready for school emotionally, even though my parents worked with me to prepare me for school. What they were able to prepare me for was being able to tie my shoes, know my alphabet, know my counting and other basics. You can be on a first grade level for reading, writing and arithmetic but a 4 year old is not emotionally ready for the Kindergarten that is so much different from what I went through when I was 4. But I wasn’t really ready emotionally, because as a 4 year old you are not developed emotionally and you haven’t been in a school type setting for that amount of time away from your parents. You also have not had the amount of interaction with children other than family that they need to develop the skills needed to progress in Kindergarten.

What’s the solution? I don’t know, but I do believe that as we have in Florida, a free state Prekindergarten (PreK) would be a great help. I believe it should be a federal law or funded program that all children have the opportunity to go to a PreK, either private or public that is paid for by the state and/or Federal government. This would alleviate the critics income issue completely because there would be a free program that a parent without the ability to pay for would have. With the way the current testing standards are now, we need to have our children ready for the what we call Kindergarten in today’s world. It isn’t the playland of years past, it’s really school and our children need to be prepared.

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