It’s nearly the end of the year for us again. This is when we get the last, nervous round of the question, “So, do you really think she’s ready for Kindergarten?”
I’m always torn about that question because on one hand I want to sing about what an amazing, competent, curious, wise and creative child they have become. On the other hand, I know the reality is that they are not. They are not ready to sit still and listen, worry more about finishing a worksheet than finishing an elaborate Magnatile structure or a fantastic painting. They aren’t ready to only play outside for thirty minutes a day on play equipment made of powder coated steel that has only smoothly rounded corners and edges. And they aren’t ready for standardized tests.
They are ready to test their social skills so they will be good citizens and collaborators later on. They are ready to test their motor skills so they will have strong bodies and a love of physical activity later on. They are ready to test their ability to overcome frustration and disappointment so they will have the fortitude to meet the challenges of what their lives include later on. They are ready to be who they are now so they will be their best selves later on.
Our staff discusses these concerns and issues regularly, and the best nugget of advice we can send folks on with is to always be your child’s vigilant and compassionate advocate. We as parents and teachers are responsible for so much, but our primary concern should be protecting and guiding our little ones. They must make their own way in their own time, safe in the right to grow into their true selves and for their voices to matter.
I read a recent KQED blog about Forest Kindergartens in Switzerland yesterday and it really got me thinking about what we’re doing here. It is the norm for formal academics not to begin until children are nearly seven, so they can be allowed to play outdoors with only gentle organization and supervision as they explore their environment, their cohort and ultimately themselves in relation to all of these things. The results are lovely, but we don’t live in Switzerland, that’s OK … we can still reflect on other practices, take the inspiration and let it help us advocate for our children and their right to be just that, children. It’s OK to play, and they’ll be the better for it. Here is that blog if you’d like to learn more:
I’m excited and confident and a little bit scared for our kids who are about to leave us. But I imagine that’s about what they are feeling too. I know each of them is a good and fierce soul that WILL be seen and heard wherever they go, and in that I put my hope for the future.