Tuesday, November 19, 2013

5 year-olds aren't dumb

Did you know that yesterday was Don't Send Your Child To School day? It was a protest created by parents who are against Common Core. I had read a little about it, but I don't think anyone here really knew, or even cared. And even if I did care, what would keeping my kids home for one day accomplish? I say, instead of keeping your kids home from school, maybe those parents can go to school with their kids and volunteer in their child's classroom. That is what I did yesterday. Every Monday I help in my son's kindergarten class. I have asked his teacher what she thinks of Common Core and you might be surprised at her answer. She loves it. She also loves that she now teaches full-day kindergarten so she can better cover all of the standards she is supposed to. When I told her lots of parents hate Common Core and are very opposed to it she asked me why. I told her the comments and articles I have read state that those who are opposed to it believe that Common Core "is dumbing down our kids" and that it is a "one size fits all curriculum." Really? If you think that, you might want to visit my son's kindergarten class. In the first 30 minutes of class yesterday this is what I observed: kids who were further ahead reading books and taking AR tests on the computer for the books they were reading; kids who needed a little extra help with sight words working with me while the kids who still needed a little extra help with counting, letter sounds, shapes, etc. working with their teacher at the front of the room. In 30 minutes, every child was getting what they needed at the level they needed. After that I saw kids on the computer with a program that adjusts to their learning level; kids who did not know their letters or sounds at the beginning of the school year sounding out letters and then blending those sounds to read words; kids who did not know how to write at the beginning of the school year writing 3 sentences and then drawing a picture to go along with their sentences; kids reading with their teacher books that were at their level. It's November and every child in that classroom is reading. Every.Single.One. They might not all be reading a the same level, but they are all reading. That didn't happen when I was in kindergarten. That didn't happen when my 10 year old was in kindergarten. Yes, I remember painting in kindergarten and playing with clay and coloring more and playing games and doing puzzles, singing songs and having recess. And that was good and fun, but to see my 5 year old reading books way earlier than I was reading books is amazing to me. I don't know everything about Common Core, but I have looked up the standards for my children and the grades they are in. I have also looked up the standards for the areas I used to teach. I don't see anything scary or horrifying or evil. It's going to look different in every state in every district in every school and even in every classroom because they are STANDARDS not CURRICULUM. There is a big difference. If I thought it was horrible and terrible I would take my kids out of school and teach them at home. But I don't think that. I love the school my kids go to and I love their teachers. I go in their classrooms and I help, I watch, I see what they are learning and how they are learning and I am impressed. They are learning more right now than I did when I was there age. They are smart and they can do it. My son's teacher said to his class yesterday, "What do we say when people tell us, 'A 5 year old can't do that'?" and the class said in unison, "We can do it!"

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