What happened to kindergarten?

benjamin-homework

I was talking to my friend this morning who wanted another baby. She has one who just turned five years old so at this point in her life, everything is fine and dandy. Most of the time, at least. The thing is, though she really wants to have another baby, there’s this pressing thought at the back of her mind how tough it must be to start from zero again. (I started from zero again after 8 years so yes, I can validate her concerns.)

The things you have to go through again: pregnancy, possible morning sickness, the destruction of a million body tissues during child birth, the recovery afterwards (and if her luck is fucked like mine ending in emergency c-section…sorry)…those sleepless nights, the crying without reason spells (possibly colic so look it up), breastfeeding, weaning, toilet training, yada, yada, yada.

The list is long and to be honest, could be an effective birth control.

But in spite of it all, that newborn smell and that total baby MAGIC. That small being empowering you, making you think you’re a superwoman and can do it all. Can do it all over again. 

I am writing this in tears.

My five year old son started kindergarten this month. Gone are the days at preschool when they would just sing Five Little Ducks and If you’re happy and you know it day in and day out. He is five years old –  far from being an infant so we have gone through the colicky stage, the fight to win my breasts back, the toilet training madness but the wonder of this thing called “parenting” is that it’s like you’re visiting an unknown town without a proper map.

Somehow you’re confident you’re going to be ok but the moment you think you’re going in the right direction, there is a surprise at a random corner. ALWAYS.

I’ve been through this once a little long time ago and boy, I can’t remember if it was this dramatic. Most probably it was but it’s just too long ago to remember. You know how they say anesthesia f*cks with your brain.

I just spent almost an hour helping Benjamin with his homework. RIGHT. Homework for kindergarten. Is that even a thing nowadays? Well, it seems so! Today his carer said Benjamin refused to do his homework: lower case letters a-z. If I am five years old, I would be ballistic too. Can you introduce me to a five year old who is maniacal obsessive about doing homework every night? If that’s your child, I would hate you. Sigh. No, I am joking. You tell me how it is done before I lose my mind. And you have to tell me real quick because I am on the verge of losing it.

And how many times was I on the verge of “losing it” in this 13 year parenting journey? Probably too much and too pathetic to count but that doesn’t mean I am immune to the feeling of failure, of being not good parent enough.

Benjamin is picked up by the school bus at 10:30 for his 11:30 class and then comes home at 4:30 in the afternoon. After what seems to be already a long day in the world of five year olds, there is a homework that needs to be done. When we’re supposed to read books or learn a new song or do silly stuffs that are fun stuffs, we sit down and do the darn homework..while he is already tired and surely running out of batteries.

My five year old son is struggling to write the alphabet.

“Benjamin needs to practice more. He cannot do it at school without the teacher’s help.” resonates inside my head over and over at work earlier this morning but I shrugged it off, telling myself,

He’s gonna be ok. He can’t go on like this – unable to write simple small letters! One fine day, he will get it. He will be able to write! I will not stress about it!

Well, boo hoo. I stressed about it. Heavily. I look at Benjamin’s older sister, my 13 year old daughterand I think: how did she survive this stage? What did I do before? Are girls really easier and more advanced than boys? 

Now Benjamin is sleeping. He showed full force of resilience towards my nagging, didn’t say anything and just continued to do what he’s supposed to do, to complete his work so he could sleep but then when we finished, he had a very emotional outburst like his pet cat died or something. I bet he’s putting me in the list of his top most hated person in the world because as his mother, I wasn’t nice. I wasn’t patient. And he is not used to seeing me get angry.

I feel bad that I can’t help him help himself. I feel bad that I can’t help myself. When you’re a working mom, the last thing you would want your day to end is your kids resenting you.

(This is why from early on, I already know deep in my heart I could never become a teacher or I’ll probably end up in jail.)

benjamin-art

While alone in the living room contemplating on what just happened (me losing it, forcing my son to write, and to be brutally honest – screaming…what a shame) I am recognizing there’s a problem with me and then there could be a problem with my son. And then most importantly, THERE COULD BE A PROBLEM WITH THE CURRENT EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM. 

HEAR ME OUT – don’t you feel that the kindergarten now is what 1st grade used to be? Therefore, if your child comes to school not knowing his letters he or she will be behind and not do well in school. The expectations for a child in kindergarten and every other grade has dramatically increased. Teachers have no choice on what to teach – they are told the expectations the children in their classes must meet whether we agree they are developmentally appropriate or not!!

And what choice do we really have, as parents, presented with a child’s homework that needs to be done no matter what the cost?

When I was 5, I played, had fun, and learned age-appropriate things. Heck, I did not even attend kindergarten! Unfortunately, that is not the case anymore. Now, the kindergartners in most schools  are mastering things that I did not even learn until higher grades.

By the end of kindergarten, they are expected to learn how to read, to analyze shapes, to compose writing prompts and much, much more. The expectations of kindergartners are getting much too high that it’s become stressful and unrealistic.

When I look at my son now, with excessive amount of homework every night, I am terribly envious of the joyful, illiterate kindergartners of Finland.

And I bet there are no mothers there going mad and crying while writing blogs like this, you know?

One thought on “What happened to kindergarten?

  1. hello Gracie.. makasulat ra lagi na..practice2x lng sa mga lines ug curves until ma-connect na ug mahimong letters. though hiwi-hiwi pa na pagkasulat pero mabasa gyapon.. ayaw kayo ka-stress sa gisulat ni titser.. one fine day he will surely make it!

    Like

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