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Under topic: communication

When a child enrolls in kindergarten and becomes part of the school system with all of its rules and regulations, parents suddenly feel left out of the decision-making process. Sometimes teachers feel the same way, especially kindergarten teachers.

At one time, the teaching of reading was not permitted in kindergarten and there was a special early childhood development certification required for kindergarten teachers.

Any teachers, many of whom have little or no training in early childhood development but with teaching certificates to grade eight, can be assigned to kindergartens. As a result, and much against the early childhood educators' advice, kindergarten programs now emphasis reading, workbooks, testing, group drill, fill-in-the blanks and color-in the pictures activities.

These teacher-directed activities tend to inhibit young children's creative impulses and many are developmentally inappropriate. 

If your child seems to be upset and not enjoying kindergarten, you might talk to the teacher and explain what is happening to him.

The trained early childhood educator would begin her year by taking the time necessary to get to know the developmental levels of her students before introducing pre-packaged programs.

She would introduce appropriate programs only when her students had achieved a level of readiness to be successful. To achieve this level, she would spend time providing opportunities for the children to increase their socialization skills, their expressive and receptive language skills, their creative talents. She would provide access to play centers like a store, a house, a dress-up corner and lots of opportunities for creative art and music activities.

She would take the children on trips to the firehouse, the store, the library, the farm so that they could come back to the classroom and talk about their shared experiences.

She would read and discuss stories with them.

She would involve them in a great number of hands-on activities like playing with water using different size measuring cups. They would be able to play with sand, to sift it to feel its consistency, to make designs with it and perhaps to trace the first letter of their names with it. They would be planning and planting a garden and on and on. All activities which they can talk and draw about and perhaps make a class story about, which the teacher writes for them.

If your child seems to be upset and not enjoying kindergarten, you might talk to the teacher and explain what is happening to him. He may not be developmentally ready to be successful at the tasks he is asked to do. When he is ready, he will do well on the same tasks he is presently failing.

It is important to know the school's curriculum in order to supplement it or to do something different at home if you disagree with its philosophy or pace.

Instead of teaching your child the alphabet or how to count to 100 at home, talk, listen and read to him. It will be time well spent since all children do better when they have a strong foundation in language.

When your child first comes home from school, do not quiz him about his academic accomplishments and go through his bag to examine his school papers. Rather, ask: Did he make a friend that day?

What did he build in the play corner? What did he talk about in school? What was fun? Did he ask any questions?

Parents can best help their children by acknowledging that children mature at different rates and the rate of development is not correlated with intelligence. Parents and teachers who attempt to accelerate this rate are doing children a disservice and causing them to be stressed unnecessarily.

Remember, childhood is a journey, not a race. .

First published in 1997