Peter says: Have you observed your child in the classroom?

Lisa and Peter got to hang out in Addy's classroom for an hour, and were pretty surprised by what goes on in JK and SK.

By Peter van de Geyn
Peter says: Have you observed your child in the classroom?

Addy "reading" to her sis.

All of the parents of JK and SK kids at Addy's school were invited to come in on different days and sit in on the first hour of class. We had our observation time last week, and, I have to say, it was eye-opening — and a little terrifying; I was forced to sit in one of those teeny-tiny child-sized chairs. Not a pretty sight.

Being back in a classroom was very weird; it wasn't my favourite place to hang out when I was younger, and it was really strange being there watching our big girl do her thing. Both Lisa and I were really impressed with Ms. E, Addy's unbelievably energetic, caring and sweet teacher. It obviously takes a special person to be a kindergarten teacher — there's no way I could do it, and not a chance Lisa (with her less-than-impressive patience level) could handle it. (Funnily enough, my memory is a sieve but I actually remember my kindergarten teachers name: Mrs. Smith. Maybe I remember that because she was really pretty. Who knows.)

Anyway, watching Addy in class, interacting with her teacher and the other kids, made us see her in a new light. Like my big-mouth wife (I mean, Lisa) was as a kid, Addy is definitely one of the shy ones in the group and rarely speaks. We never hear her shut up at home, so this was interesting to observe. Ms. E says she's really opened up since September, which we're thrilled about. After their morning routine (attendance, talking about the month and day, and singing songs), the kids were divvied up into groups to work on different activities that help them practise their letters and numbers. It was then when Lisa realized that some children were sent off to the book shelves to choose a book and read it on their own. Lisa's face dropped. "We're not doing enough with Addy at home," she panicked.

According to Ms. E, some of her JKs and SKs can write and read without too many problems, and some of her JKs and SKs (Addy included) are just learning to write. I know I certainly couldn’t read or write at the age of four, and neither could Lisa — whose career obviously revolves around reading and writing.

I’m not worried about it. I figure my kids are smart and will pick things up as they go along. Hey, isn't that what school is for? Lisa, on the other hand, feels that she has already failed Addy (even though Ms. E told her there's nothing to worry about and Addy will be reading basic sentences and writing beautifully before the end of the school year) and has forced me to paint a magnetic wall in our house (even though we also have a chalkboard wall) so she and Addy can practise with magnetic letters and numbers.  

Obviously, I think Lisa's being too hard on herself, and Addy's doing just fine at the stage she's in. So what if some kids are more advanced — it's kindergarten.

I'm wondering — could your kids read and write at age four? And have you had the chance to watch your little one in school? What did you discover?

This article was originally published on Dec 10, 2012

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