Wally used to love to write stories. I always have notebooks lying around for him to pick up whenever he feels like writing. I may not be a good model of coping with frustration or choosing fruit for dessert but I do model writing. (Try to balance out Alex's tablet habit at least a little bit.) My only complaint about Wally's writing was that his stories were too long. He would come up with some outlandish idea that it had to be 42 pages and then set to work drawing and writing then crumple up into a teary ball if he didn't have time to finish before dinner.
Fast forward from last summer to now, and you have a six-year old who can no longer stand to pick up his journal. He hates writing. Why? Because he does it for an hour a day every day in school. That is on top of reading, math, and other sit-down, academic work. And it's not that he's struggling. He's reading and writing incredibly well. It's just that he's got a lot of energy and his mind is racing, and he is not meant to sit at a desk for an hour writing every day. They do have wonderful art and music programs, but outside of a 20-minute recess, if they are lucky and nothing else squeezes it out, they have a 25-minute "choice time" (play time) at the end of each day. That's it as far as playing goes during their 6-hour Kindergarten day. Less than an hour. They have too much else they "need" to learn.
I was thinking about Robert Fulghum's famous book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. When it came out it seemed genius in its simplicity. So right and so true that you think upon reading that Kindergarten teachings apply to life on a broad scale from how to get along with others to accepting the life cycle. One of those ideas that's so dead on that once you hear it, you think, how could I not have thought of this?
Fulghum must have gone to Kindergarten in about 1942, so things had presumably changed a bit by the time he published the book in 1989. Yet at that time, nearly half a century after he learned what he learned in Kindergarten, what he wrote about still appeared to be entirely on point. You did learn to share (toys). To clean up your own mess (fingerpaints). You were likely to be given cookies for snack. You took a nap! You learned your first word. But reading the list now, it would come across as charmingly anachronistic, quaint even, if it wasn't so painful a reminder of what's missing from kindergarten today.
Here from The Washington Post today:
Thankfully it's a satire, but not too far off from the real story here.