A Quest for Kindergarten

6 Mar

The young master turned five.  He’ll start kindergarten in the fall.  The question becomes … where?

As part of the activities associated with Read Across America, the young master’s mother has been visiting schools to talk about tutoring services proffered by the public library.  These events are sponsored by the Literacy Coalition.  The events focused on children up to the third grade and presented literacy activities for the children and their parents – issuing library cards, storytelling, forming words from cut-out letters, doing puzzles, enrolling families in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, etc. — as well as showcasing community resources for reading, literacy, English as a second language, GED tutoring, library programs, etc. Those school visits have been insightful.

  • Teacher attendance varied. Some schools had the kindergarten through third grade teachers present while others had only one or two teachers there.
  • The interaction between children and teachers was telling. How often can you get excited about temporary book tattoos from Read for L.I.F.E.?  However, it is apparent that some teachers were as interested in the report from the sixtieth student as they were the first.
  • Some schools were bright and cheerful while others have Scrooge-like administrators removing light bulbs to make the atmosphere dark and dingy under the guise of saving money. (Or was it simply because the building was old? … Probably not.)
  • At some schools, the students politely asked for promotional items while at others they grabbed a handful and disappeared.
  • One newer elementary building was permanently decorated as a medieval castle throughout to emphasize the school’s knightly school mascot. (Perhaps the children are seen as pages and squires.)
  • An older building was transformed into a railroad. There were tracks down the hall.  Pictures of teachers and students decorated the windows as if they were in passenger cars.  All were reading.  The janitor was attired as an engineer and carried on animated conversations with students.

Although the activities reinforced two underlying ideas: (1) learning is fun and (2) there are simple things that parents can do to encourage learning, it was apparent that some schools had already bought the idea while others seemed blissfully ignorant.  (Could this be the difference between viewing teaching as a profession versus teaching as just a job?)

  • Look at the interaction between teachers and children (It’s so easy to discourage a child’s curiosity.)
  • Appreciate at the atmosphere created by the administration for learning (Schools ought not to be dungeons.)
  • Evaluate the school’s support for reading (It’s the building block of all learning,)

It frankly comes down to acting upon the school’s philosophy and/or mission statement, or simply giving it lip service.  The search continues for a kindergarten for the young master.  Thank goodness for the open enrollment option.

What do you think?

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