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Plain and Simple for Oct. 25, 2013
SoVaNow.com / October 23, 2013Kids are great. My wife, Lela, works at the day school connected to our church. A couple of weeks ago, one of the four-year-olds had to miss a day. Since she only comes three days a week, the director told the mother that she could bring her an extra day the next week. When the mother brought the girl on a Thursday the next week, she questioned why they were coming on a Thursday. The mother told her that it was “a make-up day.” Lela said the girl was excited every time they went to a new task throughout the day. Finally, as the day was ending, the girl asked Lela, “When are we going to put on makeup?”
Just this past week, Lela was correcting one of the kindergarten boys. He was taking it hard when one of his classmates said, “Don’t be upset. You know Miss Lela loves us. She is just trying to get us into a good college!” The only problem with kids is that they tend to grow up.
Since I am talking about kids, I may as well give my unsolicited advice on educating those kids. First of all, I believe that we are way too serious about teaching preschoolers and kids in kindergarten. When I was that age—back in the last Ice Age—most kids did not even go to kindergarten. Somehow we entered the first grade without any formal education, without formal phonics, without formal reading prep, and some of us without even knowing the alphabet or our colors. Through some magical formula, we all exited the first grade as good readers and, more important, capable listeners.
Studies have shown that the main predictor of success in school is really the ability to listen to what the teacher is saying. We cram learning into the heads of the little ones and fail to teach them to be good listeners. Part of good listening is having the opportunity to let off steam at appropriate times. Why should preschoolers and kindergarteners do homework? They need to be playing and having fun. Learning to deal with each other without killing the other person is an important life experience, too. There will be years and years of homework. Take the time early to learn how to listen and play well together. It will pay dividends later.
Then when students get into the later grades, they will be ready to take on more advanced tasks. If they have never learned these basic lessons, they will struggle later. Testing tends to prove my point. American students out-perform students around the world until about the fourth grade and then begin to fall behind. I, for one, am tired of seeing bright-eyed preschoolers who later drop out of school or who graduate with minimal skills.
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