At my daughters' Valentine's Day party, the topic among the moms turned to which school our preschoolers will attend for kindergarten. One mom began telling us what a "genius" her little one is. She has her testing to enroll in a charter school for gifted children. One of her reasons is that her daughter is reading and she doesn't want her held back in kindergarten by kids who aren't as advanced as her daughter.
Ugh. It's kindergarten. Yes, kindergarten is a crucial time for children. It will, in my opinion, make or break their love of learning. But I don't think a lax year of kindergarten will prohibit a child from attending a good college. When I was mulling over where to send my girls for kindergarten (the nearby charter school? the closest elementary school? the current elementary school where they attend preschool?) a teacher in my neighborhood said "It's just kindergarten. They'll be fine regardless of the experience."
After the conversation at school yesterday, I just wonder: why do we put so much pressure on little kids to be "advanced" and "gifted"? Let me tell you something about the "Talented and Gifted Program" when I was growing up. There were no tests involved, at least none that I can remember. Your parents filled out a form saying they wanted you in the program and boom! you were in. Were some of these kids smart? Sure. Were they all? Well, I'll just say not all of them went on to have stellar high school grades or achieve a higher education.
Do I think there's a place for "gifted" programs? Absolutely. Children learn at all levels. There are going to be kids who are learning beyond their grade level and ignoring their needs can set them up for failure. But kindergarten is about so much more than academics. It's about learning to follow rules. It's about learning social skills. It's about progressing beyond preschool and learning how to, well, learn.
After hearing this mom, I spent a few minutes questioning my own decision. Should I really be putting my daughters in public school? Should I be looking into to these "advanced" charter schools that I've never heard of? Then I realized something: I have the smartest children on the planet. I mean don't all parents feel the same way about their children? My girls will be just fine.
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