On the sidelines of my son’s soccer practice the other day I found myself inching closer and closer to moms discussing kindergarten. These types of conversations are very familiar. Very, very familiar. I have been having them (or eavesdropping on them) for two years and my son is only four. He won’t be able to attend kindergarten for another year. And even then, I am not sure he will attend. Because, these days the question isn’t just about what school but when school. We have lost it.
I have stories and stories of conversations with parents about our kid’s schooling. It’s on my mind and my tongue all the time. Imagine a group of parents standing around sipping fancy wine talking about private versus public and the very best privates in Dallas, how to get in and when to get in. Imagine that this group is made up of some the very best and brightest doctors and surgeons in the metroplex. Now, imagine that they are all products of public grade school education. This is a true story.
Back to soccer sidelines: “School A even has a dedicated learning specialist for Kindergarten. Separate from the specialist for the rest of the school.” This specialist apparently has some crazy super hero powers of recognizing/diagnosing/labeling learning disorders in the first weeks of school. Of kindergarten, guys. A time and place that can sometimes be the the very first independent environment for a little child. We have lost it.
When I turned five years old many moons ago it meant that I went to kindergarten the following school year. (And I went to the school that was in my neighborhood.) It is somehow now more important the month of which you were born than the year? Our children need to be older than fifty and half percent of the children that they will be learning
against with. Perhaps, this is a regional phenomenon that’s controlled and driven by our emphasis and focus on sports and (athletic) competition. Perhaps we have lost it. Two years before my son was eligible for kindergarten I started thinking about when I thought he should go and I know my mom didn’t give two thoughts about sending me off to kindergarten as soon as she could. We have lost it.
Here’s what I am fearful we have lost: Confidence in our children and/or belief our education system is adequate for our children.
Have we lost faith that our children can soar? Are we too afraid that our children might struggle that we are willing to manipulate their environment so that we don’t have to bare that? WE don’t have to witness it. Because, this is not about them anymore; we are putting them in the best “right” environment for them to be the most amount of successful with the least amount struggle. And I just don’t think that’s going to have long term benefits. OR, have we lost trust that our education system is rigorous enough to challenge our children (in kindergarten!)? Do we not trust the teachers to care for our children, to alert us when extra attention is needed, to keep them safe and to engage and fill their little minds to the brim? We are almost expected to over extend ourselves and sacrifice so that we can be in the right neighborhood three years before kindergarten so that our children can have playdates and know their classmates before they get to school. It’s less scary for them that way, I guess. It’s also less independent too. Or maybe we over extend ourselves by putting our children in a costly private school because our local school just isn’t “right”. Again, I bring to attention the doctors and lawyers and investment managers; the moms and dads and bankers that all went to public school.
Don’t we think that we are succeeding out there enough that our children will be able to do the same without any special treatment? Now here’s my admission: one year away from kindergarten I still have no idea where he will attend. And it could very likely be a private school. And I am afraid I have lost it. I am more afraid of failing him than of him failing. But over next short year I will focus more on making sure I am encouraging my son to succeed and soar AND struggle and fail so that he is prepared for the day I cannot change his world for him.
I will lose control. And I will try to embrace that.