Sending your kid to school is nothing like it used to be. The bar is higher. Kindergarten is no longer a glorified mother’s day out… it’s real school. Here are six reasons kindergarten today is different than it was when we were young.
1. No more naptime
Back in the day, each child had his or her own nap mat (oftentimes a bathroom rug) they’d lie on every day during their dedicated siesta hour (or half hour). It was commonly accepted that kindergarteners needed quiet time, whether they actually slept or not. Today, naps in kindergarten are a rarity — and even schools that do offer them often do away with them after a month or so — and little learners are expected to push through their fatigue.
2. Crazy school supply list
Remember when a kindergarten supply list was made up of crayons, safety scissors, a couple of boxes of Kleenex and little else? Nowadays it’s not uncommon for lists to be a full page (or more) and have specific request for brands and colors. What used to be accomplished in a simple in-and-out at the drug store the weekend before school started is now a multi-store ordeal that may or may not end up involving an Amazon order to get just the right combination of folders. You try finding a red, two-pocket folder without brads at the last minute.
Despite the fact that most 5-year-olds are probably tired at the end of their school day, kindergarten homework is really catching on. Back in the day, kids didn’t start bringing work home until the third or fourth grade, but according to one survey by the University of Phoenix, kindergarten through fifth grade teachers report assigning an average of 2.9 hours of homework per week. Granted, kindergarten homework is simple and usually doesn’t require a ton of time to complete — but doesn’t it make you wonder what the new few years will hold?
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Kindergarteners today have all the bells and whistles of middle school and high school. It’s a good thing kids are learning to read and write at an earlier age so they’ll have the skills to craft those really profound yearbook inscriptions. Maybe the next trend will be kindergarten proms.
5. Mounds of paperwork
Going through “The Folder” has become a daily chore for parents, and it starts early. Gone are the days when kids would come home from kindergarten with bits of construction paper glued together that vaguely resembled a pumpkin. Nowadays, we have to dedicate 15 (or more) minutes every day to sifting through all the paperwork the teachers send home: homework reminders, newsletters, reminders to look at the newsletter online, requests for box tops, reminders about the book fair and fundraising, fundraising, fundraising.
6. Big goals
It used to be that readiness for first grade was measured by ability to write your name and recite the alphabet. The bar is definitely higher now: counting to one hundred, recognizing a certain number of sight words and even beginner reading. Kindergarten is the new first grade.
Today’s children are smarter and more tech savvy. Society applies pressure earlier to know more and do more at an earlier age. The kindergarten we remember — singing songs and show-and-tell — bears little resemblance to present-day kindergarten classes. Some might say times are changing and that we need to start ‘em early so they’ll be able to keep up. Some might wonder what happened to letting kids be kids.
Can parents of young children strike a good balance between challenging them to be their best and nurturing them at a time when there’s still so much growth and development going on? Only time will tell.