Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Educating Lina, Kindergarten Year Almost Over...

Sadly if children sit for long lectures each day and they are filled up with knowledge (and later drilled and tested), as much as they can memorize...that's not really learning. At the private kindergarten program Lina tried...it was quite disappointing that her curiosity was not encouraged...because they just wanted to stick with what was on the curriculum, which was boring. Plus, they forced the kids to sit on a rug endlessly with their legs crossed, no matter how uncomfortable it was for them to do so, and insisted they sit quietly and not chat with their new little friends.

The Department of Education still allows parents to opt out of kindergarten in NYC, thankfully (though that wasn't made clear in some media reports, since politicians needed sound bites for the new regulations and "mandatory" sounds so much better than "parents have a choice") and that's what we did for 2013-2014. I am very passionate about advocating for developmentally appropriate education for children (and treating them like unique beings, not test numbers or dollar signs). There are many who believe that "Too Much, Too Soon" is not productive for our kids (even if it wins votes during elections)...and can be damaging long-term...as it is eloquently stated on the University of Cambridge's web site:

http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discussion/school-starting-age-the-evidence

Lina blossomed in terms of so many important areas that would not have been covered at the kindergarten program. She has created so many of her own songs, drawings, picture books, acted out her own stories, built structures and improvised dance movements. She has socialized with so many different individuals, easily making friends and playing wherever we go. And there have been many field trips and workshops.

And of course, she can be curious every day, it is totally welcome. Here's an example of 11 questions Lina came up with...in 11 minutes....over breakfast one day last month at home. Every day she has questions about vocabulary, reading, writing, math, science, music, art, film, history etc. I'm happy that she can explore anything she is interested in...deeply...it's so easy to do these days.


In terms of her cool academic and creative projects, her enthusiasm is so amazing to everyone. We're now focusing on deciding where we want to live permanently (whether we want to remain in NYC or not). It's an exciting time and there are many options...we're leaving doors open...to make a final decision by August regarding first grade programs (public, private or learning collectives with group classes, one-on-one tutors etc.) since it depends on the location we will be living obviously and paperwork will be filed in the appropriate district. Some families have been roadschooling and that was covered by major publications, that's very interesting to us...documenting it all...but we may want to hold off on such a long trip until Lina is older and can remember more details.

I have been busy checking off to-dos in terms of routine appointments so we can have them out of the way (Lina did great at her wellness visit at her pediatrician's office, as always...then she visited her pediatric dentist, who she has been seeing since age 3 and she had no cavities again, same as last year, and her first set of x-rays this year turned out swell). Making sure everything is taken care of, no loose ends, before summer vacation. Cheers!