Socialization and Kindergarten Readiness
Some children arrive in kindergarten less ready to grapple with the kindergarten curriculum than other children. Sometimes this is merely a matter of developmental differences; in many cases, however, the different in readiness relate to other factors. Some children, for example, enjoy a variety of early experiences that fit nicely into what they need for kindergarten. Other children’s early experiences are different; for them, kindergarten presents an alien world. As a result of these differing experiences, children are sometimes labeled and separated into groups by their “abilities” (this is called tracking). If children are tracked and labeled early, their educational course is set, sometimes for life. That means some are given the message that they’re learners—winners in the race called school. They tend to take the ball and run with it; they’re successful. Others learn early that they’re “slow,” which they translate to mean “stupid”; they’re losers. Once tracking begins, the educational opportunities become limited for some and expanded for others.
Getting into Kindergarten
Even getting into kindergarten may be an issue facing families who send their 5-year-olds off to public school. Public school administrators and teachers are under a great deal of pressure to provide accountability to government funding sources. Those who pay the bills want to be sure they’re getting their money’s worth. The way they determine accountability is through test scores, so testing has finally reached clear down to kindergarten and even into preschool. Two examples of accountability through testing are in Head Start and in No Child Left Behind (NCLB). As this edition is being written, changes are on the horizon in both arenas.
As a parent volunteer in my son’s elementary school, I have seen the effects of testing on 5-year-olds. The day I helped with the standardized achievement tests in kindergarten stands out in my memory. The children were told not to be nervous and that this was nothing to worry about—a contradictory message because everything about the atmosphere that day said, “This is very important.” In addition, the parents had been sent a notice to be sure that the children got a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast every day during the week of the testing. So in some cases, the atmosphere both at home and in the classroom conveyed the message that tension existed around these events—that they were different from what the children usually experienced in kindergarten. Even though the children were told not to be nervous (which in itself makes one suspicious enough to be nervous), two cried, one threw up, and one had to go home with a headache. These events alone were enough to influence the test scores, not only of the afflicted group but also of the group not showing any symptoms.
© ______ 2009, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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