I went to Vincenzo’s kindergarten orientation a couple weeks ago. People asked all sorts of questions, like, “How much time a day to the students spend doing math?” and, “My child is already proficient at reading. How are you going to make sure she isn’t bored?”
I, meanwhile, raised my hand and asked how much time the kids spend at recess each day. If I had asked a second question, it would have been, “My child is proficient at pointing at people and going, ‘Pshew! Pshew!’ How are you going to make sure he isn’t bored?”
Still, I was feeling like Vincenzo is really ready for kindergarten…until I had to fill out the paperwork. Does he know his ABCs? Check! Can he count to twenty? Um…check? Can he write his name using only one capital letter? Can he button? Does he know his phone number? Address? Birthday? Does your child know his full name?
We have been working on his full name this week.
I know I make fun of his blatant boyishness, his tendencies toward violence, his nonstop energy, his disinterest in doing anything that resembles learning no matter how much chocolate I dip it in or how many sprinkles I pour on it. But I’m serious about recess. These kids are five. FIVE. They still hold our hands in the parking lot. They think their stuffed animals are real. When we kiss their bumps and bruises they believe they’re magically healed. They have temper tantrums. Because they are five.
In Denmark, one of the most literate countries in the world, children are not taught reading until age seven. When reading instruction begins, it’s in a relaxed environment. In America, if your child isn’t reading before he enters kindergarten you start worrying that he isn’t gifted. If he isn’t reading by the end of kindergarten, you start worrying that he is special needs.
And we all want gifted kids.
When I came home from orientation and told Vincenzo I had visited the classroom he’ll be in next year, he asked just one question. Twice. “Did you see kids playing, Mom? Were they playing there?”
I think we’ll move to Denmark.
WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Pork and pink bean soup