Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Adventures in Kindergarten

Bubba is in Kindergarten at our nearby public school.  It is a brand new school, well 3 years old.  There are SEVEN kindergarten classes.  The school has just over 1,000 students.  This is called poor planning between the school district and the city.  Regardless, it is a high performing school and his teacher seems very good.  She has been teaching for over 10 years and is as attentive and warm as you would want a kindergarten teacher to be.

I am a public school skeptic.  I don't know how this evolved.  Probably due to my skepticism of government.  And as John Stossel says, public schools are really government schools.  So I tend to see everything that Bubba does through my skeptical filter.  All in all he is enjoying it.  He has some buddies.  He is learning.  I think he is a good student so far.  It's good.

I am not going to run down all his homework (yes he has multiple assignments a week), but this evening we were working on his weekly online math assignment.  His school has a contract with IXL.  Bubba has to do 10 minutes of kindergarten level math activities on it each week.  Tonight he chose to work on telling time.  As we proceeded throughout the activities, I realized I was basically teaching him how to tell time.  The assignment is pretty vague: the student chooses a topic they want to work on and do it for 10 minutes.  The options are things like counting, adding, substracting, money, time, patterns, etc.  Great.  The problem tonight was that Bubba doesn't know much about telling time.  So I was needing to explain about the little hand and big hand.  How a time that ends with :00 means o'clock.  How the big hand being on the 12 means :00 or o'clock.  So we plodded through.  He did great!  And I love teaching him stuff.  I am happy to do it.  I am not thrilled however with the idea that I'm basically teaching him these concepts.  Shouldn't homework be reviewing concepts and topics already covered in school?  This homework site seems like it's introducing all sorts of new ideas with zero background.  So I can watch him flounder through and miss a significant portion because he has no idea what it means.  Or I can teach him some basics so he can learn and still find answers on his own, but using the basic information I have just shared with him.

This isn't the first assignment like this he's had.  I get this sense that the school is trying so hard to push the academics that they're just throwing it all at them in the name of "exposure".  I am not sure I agree with this approach.  As I type this, I think I will make a note to ask about this at conferences.  Because yes, even in kindergarten, we have conferences!  Of course.

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