The Critical Year of Kindergarten
Proverbs 22:4 “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
In this unprecedented time, parents are confused and conflicted as to the start of kindergarten. Is a five-year old's first experience with school going to be fearful, safety rule-focused and basically an intimidating environment? What “first day” memories will families have this year? Many parents are considering homeschooling their child.
One parent, a geologist and writer, shares these thoughts. "I have this low-level anxiety about everything in the background all the time, and a substantial chunk of it is how I am going to make sure that my kids are getting the experiences they need at this age?” Families are uncertain as to whether to even start their tender five-year-old in school or wait until 2021, if the laws in their state allow it. When they keep them home there are other challenges ensuring their child gain critical developmental stages.
The kindergarten year was designed to teach self-confidence, how to function in a community and self-regulation. This year, our new definition for self-regulation is how to keep a mask in place, restrictions from touching people and their possessions, and how many times to wash their hands.
The one person the new kindergarten child is supposed to trust, and follow, is now a masked stranger mumbling through fabric. This might not be the best training for socialization or language development. We know children can read faces. Can you imagine communicating with a classroom of 5-year-olds without a smile or "the look"?
How will the kindergartners feel about the grades ahead? Will tender brains be wired for fear and anxiety associated with school? Will overly anxious, cautious teachers be restricted from really "starting them off" for years of success? Johanna Garcia Normart, who taught kindergarten for 12 years says, "The primary importance of kindergarten is being able to love to learn.” My heart goes out to the teacher with the extra demands on her time to regulate health measures.
Many schools have adopted cohort groups. A simple “circle of friends” to stay within during school. At first glance, this looks like a good idea. But consider these scenarios.
1. Cohorts may not be compatible with each other.
2. A child may need to sit closer to the teacher to hear instruction through a mask.
3. A child who works better without distraction of others and would normally sit closer to the teacher's desk.
4. The child with a behavioral diagnosis and special needs.
Kindergarten is a time when children develop conflict resolution and group interaction. This is not accomplished instantly when they come into the classroom the first week. Restrictions demanded by health concerns are bound to frustrate development in some of these key areas.
Ephesians 6:4 says "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord."
Pray for the teachers to have insight that is truth and wisdom from the Lord as they instruct these vulnerable little ones.
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