Kindergarten seeming way too academic... - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-09-2012, 06:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am having a hard time with how academic my sons kindergarten class is.  He goes to a small Catholic school and his school started a new reading program this year: the Riggs method: http://www.riggsinst.org/ which is phonogram based.

 

They spend a lot of time on this every day to the point that although they have playtime, recess, gym, they aren't doing much art, math, science.  Everything is going in to reading.  My son only likes school because his friends are there and they play soccer at recess.  I really believe kindergarten should be about playdough and blocks still. 

 

They also have 2 'tests' a day on their phonograms.  One in the morning on the single letters (basically the alphabet), and one in the afternoon on the 2 and 3 letter phonograms they've learned so far.  DS is consistently getting about half right on the afternoon test.  So then I'm torn between wanting him to do well (and drilling him with the flashcards we were given) at home and wanting to just let him play and unwind (which we do 95% of the time).

 

I know there isn't any hope of getting anything changed for this year but my younger children will be in this school eventually.  The kindergarten teacher even confessed to me that she thinks they should wait and start this program in the first grade.

 

Not sure what to do  :(


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Old 01-09-2012, 06:56 PM
 
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this will not be what you want to hear

 

we did a Catholic K and 1st at another Catholic and it was night and day different

 

even within the same dioceses one can do one program another not

 

I see your real issue is NEXT year- you have this program in place now, so I'm assuming here next year will be real academic based on what they expect now???

 

You can switch for your others but it still leaves you with next year for this one. I would sit down now and talk to the teacher for next year, find out the expectations and what they are doing based on a child having gone through this program and really think about what your goals are, what you child is able to do now and your long term goals- you may need to switch schools.

You might find another Catholic school that is more inline with your schooling perspective. 

 

it's sad to be have way done with the year and feeling this way


 

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Old 01-09-2012, 07:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I should add that we love this school for every other reason.  My husband went here.  It is K-12 and very family oriented.  We know everyone.  Unless there was something seriously wrong my husband especially would not be willing to switch schools.   


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Old 01-09-2012, 07:23 PM
 
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My guess is that the private schools are forced to keep the pace with the public schools, which are forced to keep up with standardized testing. They could risk losing students if they don't keep up with public schools.

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Old 01-09-2012, 07:32 PM
 
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I have to say our K does not use that program, but it is also academic. The Riggs method is not a bad alternative to some other options out there--- it is multi-sensory and low/no worksheets, both of which are good for young Elem. kids.

 

As a PP stated- most private schools are moving toward academic. To find a more play based program, you may have to look at independent private school.

 

 

My girls are in 1st, and they are expected to be reading and writing. Kiddos that are still working on letters/sounds/phonograms would be behind in 1st grade. They attend a standard 1st grade (with kids coming from 1/2 day K).

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Old 01-09-2012, 08:27 PM
 
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Respect your instincts and talk more with your child's teacher. Let her know how you feel and what your concerns are. I'll give you my two cents, but I'm not directly involved, so I don't know the entire story...
 

If the kids are getting time for non-directed play in centers and outdoors, then this program seems ok. I know the testing sounds intense, but at this age it's generally not high-pressure. The instructors need feedback from these "tests" to help them see their students' progress. It also sends the message to the students that they are responsible for their own learning. A good teacher will administer these assessments in a gentle, low-stress manner , and pair them with activities that let all students feel success.

 

There are two things that do bother me:

 

1. You say there is little time for science, art, music, math, etc. This is very troublesome. I see these as important subjects, esp. math. Kindergarten math performance is surprisingly predictive of later achievement. There are many recent studies that show this. Here's an example... http://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/publications/workingpapers/2004/duncan/SchoolReadiness.pdf

 

2. The teacher's attitude about the program doesn't seem to be good. Enthusiastic implementation is important. 

 

I hope you get some answers from the teacher that will make you feel better. Good luck!

 

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Old 01-09-2012, 08:40 PM
 
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Unless there was something seriously wrong 

 

 

a think not being a "good fit" is still an OK reason to not be there and that does not mean "seriously wrong"-

 

you really need to know what next year holds and going into it with an attitude of only "serious" you may not be doing what is academically correct for this or your other children and focusing more on the loves without seeing the long term here-IMO


 

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Old 01-10-2012, 02:25 PM
 
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Private schools have a lot of pressures. Some feel like they have to "more" academic to win parents and some feel like they have to be less academic than public schools. Sounds like your school feels like they have to be really ahead of the public school track.

 

The program might be intense all around or it might be your child's experience with it. Is he young for the class? Did he attend preschool before the school year? Did he know the alphabet before starting school? How is attention during the class? Can you talk to the teacher about his experience and how it compares to other kids? Can you observe?

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Old 01-10-2012, 08:36 PM
 
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It look like the Riggs method is based on The Writing Road to Writing by Spalding, which is what I used to teach my kids to read back when we were homeschooling. It's a very solid program. I did wait until my kids were a little older because I was on the mellow side, but having looked at  and tried a lot of programs (one of my DDs had some problems learning to de-code) I think this is some of the most solid instruction around.

 

It is tough, though. And a bit tedious. Both my kids ended up reading really, really well and loving reading, so I do feel like it paid off for us.

 

It's too bad the teacher is having trouble balancing the program with other activities. Personally, I might go over a couple of cards before bedtime, but since he is spending so much time on it at school, I wouldn't spend more than 5-10 minutes. Just pick a couple of cards and stick with them for the whole week. It may be that in going over so many at a time, they are just a blur for him. I'd focus on actually learning just a few rather than reviewing them all. Remember that it really doesn't matter exactly how many phonograms he gets right each day. It's just practice.

 

Teaching my kids to read with this program helped my spelling!  I wish I had been taught this way as a child. Try taking a long view of this, rather than the day to day. It sounds like you like the school otherwise, and this will give your children a very solid basis for reading and spelling. There is a payoff.

 

There are very few schools where K is about playing. Heck, a lot of preschools aren't even about playing. I agree with you that it would be nice, but if you like the school otherwise, I'd try to look on the bright side.


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Old 02-20-2012, 02:02 PM
 
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From the website:

 

Quote:
Instruction begins at a 6-year-old's listening and/or spoken comprehensible vocabulary levels which researchers Chall, Seashore and Flesch determined to be between 4,000 and 24,000 words.

So, the teacher is right.  They are pushing it in neglect of everything else, possibly so the kids will have a head start next year.  If that is ok with you, then stay with it.  I personally am more along the lines of your wishing what a kinder should be (which is what it used to be and isn't really anymore, with maybe the exception of Waldorf and some independent schools ascribing to various theories).  I wouldn't like this for my kids...a year does make a difference when it comes to emotional and mental development, and it sounds like a great program-for a different grade.  I'd go with a different program since it does seem like there isn't much room for anything else in their curriculum.  Buuuuut....you know the school better than I of course, so just take my own thoughts for what they are.


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Old 02-20-2012, 05:34 PM
 
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I think it made be a good thing that they are this academic from the start. There is a very big jump in expectations from kindergarten to first grade. At my dd's school they went from letter sounds at the end of kindergarten to reading several pages of work a day at the beginning of first grade. It was a jump my DD made because she was already reading but some kids got left behind and sent to remedial instruction from the reading specialist in the first few weeks. They may have noticed kids getting left behind and decided to try to address that at your child's school. If you don't like the curriculum and want to see a change though you should definitely bring it up with the principal or whoever decides on the curriculum.
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Old 02-27-2012, 01:52 PM
 
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I have a kindergartener in public school.  She entered school as a good reader, but if she hadn't been, I would expect her to learn the alphabet and  some letter/sound combinations in K.  That doesn't sound too academic to me.  And I would love that it's a research-based successful program. (I haven't researched the program to see if it is, but as the mom of an older child with dyslexia, I think all reading programs should be research-based.)

 

How much time are they spending on it?  If it's an hour a time, that's ridiculous. But a couple of half-hour blocks seems fine.  I'm not bothered by a daily test.  But the children should be getting other time to do centers, social studies/science, writing, art, music, PE and recess. I wouldn't be happy if any other areas would be neglected.  Can you talk to the teacher about how it's being used, to find out if they're using it correctly?  

 

 

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Old 03-01-2012, 09:02 AM
 
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I have had 3 kids go through Catholic elementary school- one that is very traditional and academic (the same principal for 45 years). All were expected to be reading in 1st grade- reading to the point that they could take a weekly test without any assistance. I think K in general is much more academic than most of us remember.

 

I teach in a public high school. The push is not only on state testing, but constant formative assessments. This is most likely what is happening each day. These aren't really tests per se. They are simply a way for the teacher to assess how each student is responding to the instructional strategies being used. It is also a way to determine whether certain students need interventions, etc. By the time students get to me, most disabilities have been found, interventions are in place, but we still work on seeing which students are struggling. I teach 10th grade; there are 46 GLEs my students are expected to master by the end of the semester (we are a 4x4 school, so students have only 4 classes for one semester, then a different 4 the next- like college). If I didn't do daily/weekly formative assessments, I would spend valuable time covering material theyhave already mastered. These don't count for grades and they are not all paper and pencil. A good teacher knows how to take what is being required and make it fit into the classroom routine seamlessly. If this teacher has a negative attitude, it is definately affecting the students' reponse.

 

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