Splatypus’s comment about my last post got me thinking about the days when I taught kindergarten in one high-poverty school after another.
Kindergarten can be high-stress for a teacher. And not just because her students are living in poverty and have all the problems that go with poverty. Kindergarten can be high-stress because districts are now putting a lot of pressure on the teachers to close the achievement gap and produce results.
Your kids should be doing these things at the start of the year, and if they’re not, you better catch them up. Then in January you better show these test results, and by the end of the year, they better know how to do every single one of things things on this long list here.
When I taught kindergarten, my children showed up years behind, and I had to try to get them through all the educational and social experiences that they missed in the first five years of their lives, plus get them through kindergarten to be ready for first grade. In many instances, it wasn’t possible. I would be trying to teach the kids to read and they would go to the bathroom and not come back. I’d go see what they were doing, and find them at the sink, lost in rapture, playing with water and bubbles. When they were toddlers, they never got to play with water and bubbles, and here they were, making up for lost time.
I tried really hard to teach preschool and kindergarten simultaneously, but that was hard. I tried to be their teacher, their mother, their father, their social worker, their therapist, and their disciplinarian, but that was hard, too.
I went home every day feeling like a failure.
Now I teach prekindergarten, and while I work with a similar demographic, it’s a different experience entirely. My kids come to me missing all sorts of things they should have gotten in the first four years of their lives, sure, but for some reason, getting them one year earlier makes a world of difference.
I can get them through preschool, and I can get them ready for kindergarten. In fact, I can send them off to kindergarten even a little bit ahead of the game.
I go home every night feeling like a success.
So that’s why I’m a preschool teacher.
(image from superdairyboy.com via Google images)