Written by: Holly Haggerty, Executive Director
Which one of these would you expect a kindergartener to do on their first day of school?
A. Write a Story
B. Learn the names of the letters
C. Write a sentence
If you chose B (learn the names of the letters) you would be wrong. On my daughter Dagny’s first day of kindergarten, she was asked to do C–write a sentence.
When I enrolled Dagny in kindergarten this year, it was not without some amount of trepidation. My older three children had attended private school throughout their elementary years and came out with their basics fully in.
But my husband and I decided to enroll our fourth child in a public charter school which emphasizes the arts. The school is also one of the top schools in the county for students performing at grade level.
We felt that if any child could succeed in public school it was Dagny. After all, I had practically been preparing her for school since she was born.
I was not prepared, however, for the curriculum changes prompted by Florida’s new standards. Per my child’s school principal and others, 1st grade curriculum was moved into kindergarten this year. That is not to say that Florida’s previous set of standards didn’t have its own issues, but the curriculum changes that have come about with the new set of standards give one cause to pause.
In our first parent-teacher conference, I asked my daughter’s teacher why the kids were already into writing sentences. She showed me the State of Florida expectations for kindergarteners. The expectations include writing narratives, opinion pieces and expository pieces by the end of the year.
I don’t remember when I wrote my first expository (which is simply a piece of writing intended to explain or describe something), but I do know that it wasn’t in kindergarten. My memories of kindergarten include meeting large blow up characters like Mr. O and learning the names of the letters.
I will admit, as a kindergartener I did not find Mr. O particularly exciting. But as I sat in the conference coming to grips with what my own kindergartener is expected to do this year, I must say I really missed Mr. O.