Today we had a visitor. It’s a common occurrence in my classroom, only today, our visitor was four years old. We’ll call him Charley. Charley’s dad brought him to school so that I could watch him play in my room for an hour, and evaluate whether or not he will be okay to enter kindergarten in the fall, even though he won’t be five by the cutoff date.
It’s a new system, instituted last year, that works better than the old system. The old system was that parents begged the principal, and the principal said yes or no depending on their gut, or their mood. It was very inconsistent and unfair, so the early childhood department came up with a procedure that all schools are supposed to follow.
So now, in the spring, I have small visitors who come and work in my room with my students, and I observe them and fill out an observation form. If they get enough points, they pass, and they can come to K in the fall.
I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I’m glad that the early childhood dept. got involved, and that they came up with a consistent procedure. On the other hand, I think it is still a bit too lenient. I think many of the parents who want their child to get early admittance to K are really thinking about the full-day aspect, and not having to pay for daycare in the afternoon (if their kids are instead sent to a pre-K classroom like mine).
Also, it’s a grade skip. Starting kindergarten a full year before you’re supposed to is a grade skip, and I think it should only be for the kids who are clearly advanced academically, socially, and emotionally. Besides, don’t a lot of experts say that boys tend to mature more slowly at that age, and shouldn’t be pushed ahead?
Charley did fine. He was quite reserved, but he separated from his dad readily, and did respond when spoken to. He followed directions, paid attention to what was going on around him, and followed our routines. He had fun playing in sand, and even got along with our Miss L. — that is, until she hit him and had to leave the sand table. I talked to his dad, who said that they just moved here from another state, where the cutoff is different, and where, had he stayed, he’d be going to kindergarten in the fall automatically. Also, he knows his letters and sounds and is starting to learn how to read.
I’d be interested in hearing what other people think.