Tonawanda News

Columns

June 20, 2013

In praise of pre-Kindergarten

Tonawanda News — Every once in a while, you hear someone grumbling (or read a Sound-Off), asking why school districts need to provide pre-kindergarten programs for their students. 

Can’t parents pay for outside child-care themselves if they want to get rid of their kids during the day? (Grumble.) And back in their day, kindergarten was plenty. (Grumble.) In fact, half-day kindergaren was just fine. (Grumble, grumble.) In fact, even that was optional. (Epic grumbling.)

Now, I remember kindergarten (dimly) as a time of basic letters and numbers, naptimes and snacks and struggling to master the tying of the shoelaces. Nothing that needs a lot of background, right? By first grade, we were learning to read (oh happy day!), but kindergarten was mainly socialization and the very basics. Nothing for which the average 5-year-old needed much preparation.

But, folks, things have changed since 1979.

Kid No. 2, a recent Ken-Ton pre-K graduate, proudly brought home his “report card” at the end of the school year this week, an assessment of his progress both at the middle of the year and now at the end. He was scored on an array of the skills he needs to know to be ready for kindergarten and beyond. 

In addition to characteristics of a successful learner (such as “focuses during teacher-directed activities” and “uses technology appropriate to grade level”), motor skills (such as “holds writing tools properly”) and life and self-help skills (such as “puts on own outdoor clothing independently”) are goals in literacy development, math and science and social studies. Such as:

• Describes the role of an author and illustrator.

• Demonstrates understanding of the organization and basic features of print.

• Uses a combination of drawing, dictating or writing to express an opinion or compose informative/explanatory text, with prompting and support.

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