I was blown away when I read an article that was published on CNSNews.com a few weeks ago about a $500 million Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge endorsed by President Obama. In the article, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made this statement….
“You really need to look at the range of issues, because if a 5-year-old can’t sit still, it is unlikely that they can do well in a kindergarten class, and it has to be the whole range of issues that go into healthy child development.”
This initiative is specifically designed to prevent such “problems” as 5 year olds who can’t sit still in a kindergarten classroom.
Let me back up for a minute and describe my children. I have five year old twins, a boy and a girl. My daughter WILL sit still for quite a while if she’s very engaged in what she’s doing. She loves to play computer games, will sit with me for an hour to dissect a human body model with me, loves to read and will sit for two and a half hour movies. She’s great at sitting if there’s a high intensity of interaction.
My son will sometimes sit still. It also depends on how engaged he is with what he’s doing. He’ll often sit in my lap for an hour and listen to stories, but other times he needs to be playing Legos or even running back and forth between the kitchen and living room while hearing a story. Amazingly enough, he always seems to know what’s going on in the story, too.
But I guarantee if they were in a typical kindergarten classroom, they’d have a very hard time sitting still. The same level of interaction just wouldn’t be there. They’re too used to having all their questions answered, being allowed to interrupt during stories and get up when they need to move around.
And it’s not just my kids either.
It’s not developmentally appropriate for 5 year olds to sit still most of the time. In fact, in my opinion, it’s not great for most children under the age of twelve to spend most of their time in a chair. Now that I think about it, I get pretty miserable if I’m sitting still for a really long time, too.
5 year olds at their happiest are running, skipping, jumping, climbing, dancing, singing, pretend playing, shouting and anything but sitting still.
Sebelius said in the article about half the 5 year olds “tested” in Kansas weren’t prepared to enter a kindergarten classroom. I’m surprised that half of the kids WERE supposedly ready. They shouldn’t be ready to sit and do worksheets. They shouldn’t be ready to sit still during a story without jumping excitedly to their feet, sharing something they just discovered. They shouldn’t be ready to walk in a single file line to the bathroom while remaining silent.
But wait. Most kids HAVE been prepared. Over 64% of kids go to preschool in the United States. And just this week, I’ve learned there are pre-preschool programs to prepare kids for preschool. Huh.
And yet, even after all these extra two to three years of “training,” kids STILL have a hard time sitting still. Why do many kids dislike school by the time they’re eight or nine (although with two extra years of school now for 3 & 4 year olds that age might be dropping)? Could it be they’re realizing schools won’t give them what their bodies and minds are craving? Could they be reaching an age where they’re starting to dream big dreams, have ideas for fascinating projects and needing, just as much as when they were younger, to move around?
It’s starting to sink in that with someone else directing their entire day both during school and afterwards through homework and those “very important” extra enrichment activities, they won’t have time for those dreams, to run and climb freely, or just do nothing.
Is it just me, or is it kind of ironic that Michelle Obama is also working on a nationwide campaign to fight childhood obesity called Let’s Move? Or that she said in this article that “My kids have to get up and move.”?
What do you think?
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Photo Credit: Nina Matthews PhotographyShare on Facebook