Monday, September 15, 2008

DAP - Let's bridge the gap!

I got a call from one of my moms from last year this afternoon. She was concerned that her sons kindergarten teacher said that her son " needs to color in the lines." Her reply to the teacher was " My son had the best preschool teacher ever. If she taught through 12th grade my kids would still be there. She didn't make a big deal about coloring in the lines in preschool. She let them be creative and never used worksheets." ( Thanks mom, for being my cheerleader!) The teacher went on to explain that kindergarten teachers prefer the children be "ready" for kindergarten . I have heard kindergarten teachers say various other things as well. Why should Danielle have to color a paper apple red when I handed her one? We talked about what color it was. We weighed it. We told stories about it. We cut it open to see what was inside. We tasted it. We cooked with it. We even painted with it. By the end of the day, Danielle knew the color red but she knew so much more.

Ok... Now I understand there comes a time when a child has to conform. I am not even really that upset with this teacher. I am sure she is under pressure from state standards and 1st grade teachers to get each child to a certain point.

I remember vividly two years ago taking my preschoolers for their tour of the kindergarten in May. As we arrived we were greeted by the new and very nice counselor. He first separated the boys and the girls and told them to get in two lines. ( We don't separate by gender and we don't stand in lines. ) Then came the famous hang ten ( with the fingers ) and put a " bubble in your mouth." What? " Ms Debbie, he wants us to put a bubble in our mouth. You have spent 9 months asking us open ended questions and building our confidence so we will hold intelligent conversations and now he wants us to shut up?" Ok, no one said that, but I know they wanted to. Then we go in the hallway and enter various rooms. We go in the music room. What? We don't do music all day? We don't sing as we put our dishes away or clean up our toys? And.. why aren't the children that are singing smiling and dancing? Wait ! There is my buddy from last year. He is a year older than I am so he went to big school. Aww... He didn't even stop to talk to me. He walked in a line like a robot and had that darn bubble in his mouth. whoa.....

Why is everyone under such pressure to perform?
Why does everyone want our children to grow up so fast?

Why are the same children that leave me at 5 treated differently 2 months later? Do the rules for DAP change with the setting?

Just in case you wondered here is a good description of DAP.

Children are encouraged to learn through activities that are appropriate to their ages and individual stages of development. Kids can usually choose among several activities and can play alone or in small groups, while the whole group often comes together for songs, stories, or other "circle time" activities. Rote learning, worksheets, and early reading are not part of the program (although many reading readiness skills may be learned informally).
Today, kindergartens have become more academic and less just an introduction to the classroom. As a result, many developmental preschools feel parental pressure to "prep" children, and some have added more structured academics for pre-kindergarteners.

I dont know what to say when parents call. I know in my heart I am doing my job exactly the way it should be done but the school system makes me look and feel inadequate. My kids are exactly where they need to be if not ahead. But they leave me happy, accepted, confident and curious.

Well, until someone sits them down for hours, throws papers in front of them and tells them to color in the lines.

Don't ask me to color your green frog. Give me a piece of paper and I will draw one and color it in for you.

Frustrated.... Should I start popping the flash cards and stuffing the cubby with all those worksheets?

Atleast then... people would know I didn't something all day besides play.


adamandkaylasmommy said...

Know that you will have another cheerleader on your side next year, if ANYONE says anything about Adam not coloring in the lines. WHO CARES?? I would much rather him weight, cut, cook, and paint with the apple than to just color it red. Geezzz can you tell that I just might be "that mom" next year? Can you please teach K thru 12?

deanna davis said...

Okay let me first say that you have done an AWESOME job at preparing my kids for Kindergarten - I have the luckiest girls in the world - but in the defense of the poor Kindergarten teachers -

Those hallways are very echo-y(?). The kids are moving around to different stations all day, bathroom breaks, etc. and they are SO hyper, if they didn't learn to walk that way, they would disrupt all the other classes. Its really a form of respect for others, which is a great lesson to learn. Also, when you have 20 kids and no helper, as a teacher, you need the class to learn to calm down and be quiet or those poor teachers would not even be able to take them for a bathroom break without wanting to run away. 320 kids in one building have to learn to stick together somehow. and the seperating by gender is the only way the teachers can figure to get them into two equal lines without having to organize them every single time they leave the room. Also, Gracie is learning her colors and spelling and letters through songs, so she comes home singing a new song every single day. I think its an awesome way to teach, with music. and her teacher is doing a great job, just extending the love of music and learning in her that YOU started. As for coloring in the lines, I hope that is not a way to stifle their creativity, but maybe its just teaching them to follow directions. You would be SHOCKED at how many children have NO idea what the color red is in Kindergarten. some have no idea how to circle the one that is smaller. but Gracie's teacher tells me all the time that her pre-k education was AWESOME, that she is so READY for learning to read. and even though you used a different way of teaching, she is still PREPARED. so quit it already, we all know you rock. :)

MemoryMaker said...

I know and please remember , I said I wasnt upset at the teacher more the system. The halls are TOO crowded and it is one person to 20 instead of 8 to one like we have . I know it has to be hard. I also know there are very good teachers out there and this teacher probably is one of those. I just hate to see the babies that leave me have to adjust to such different situations. I confident in what I do and I know my parents appreciate the kind of love and teaching I offer. I just struggle sometimes. Should I prepare them more? If I do that am I doing it for my pride, for the kids or to make someone else's job easier. What is the right thing? It all can make your head swirl.

Deanna "talks too much" Davis said...

"am I doing it for my pride, for the kids or to make someone else's job easier" wow debbie, i never thought of it like that. that's a tough call. you know, i realized something today - when i tell people that my daughter is in preschool, i have to explain to HALF of them "oh don't worry, she gets plenty of play time" and the other HALF "oh don't worry, she doesn't just PLAY all day" depending on what their idiotic comment is about me no longer letter her stay home all the time. I think you are doing a GREAT job and teaching the kids to be quiet when you are talking, sit together in silence (nearly) as well as a zillion other things. I guess Kindergarten just takes it to the next step. Can you imagine how certain-unnamed-children would do if they had gone from home right to kindergarten??? from no structure to rules rules rules? i think you are a great medium to get them ready for the rules. but the most IMPORTANT thing you do is get them interested in learning new things! coloring in the lines is such a small rule to comply with if you have taught a child to be interested in learning. i know that gracie LOVES all these new worksheets she gets to do. She circles all the apples that are red, and i know that she is thinking "i learned what a red apple is from Miss Debbie! I'll circle that one!" and then she's so proud of herself, to see on paper that she did it don't need to get them any more 'ready' than you are doing right now - please continue to let them 'color outside the lines' -

Stacey Kannenberg said...

WOO HOO!!! I love this debate. I believe the parent is the first and foremost teacher! I say that on the day that I volunteered at school. If I was in charge, I would definitely make some changes but yet after 2 hours, I was just as ready for recess too! So tonight I went to the PTA and shared some of my ideas with the room full of parents and teachers who attended. By working together we are making some great strides at our school. I highly recommend getting active in your child's school. I try to attend monthly school board meetings too! I can't begin to tell all the positive changes our school is making for the better based on parent involvement and honstly, I have only just begin!!! :)

Smiles - Stacey

Preschool Playbook said...

Thank you for a very timely article. A mom and myself sat for an hour today disucssing this just topic. Where's the fun? Where's the exploration? Where's the children? I wish more people higher up could take note of this and help us bring back those days of exploration!

Jessica said...

Both of my kids are starting to color in the lines. Not that THAT'S the point, but they learned it at preschool I think, and so at least you have done something to "prepare" them for the monotony that is public school system!

Reading your description of kindergarten is SO SAD. I am SO happy that Elliot is having 2 years at your awesome preschool!

By the way, I issued a right nice "argument" for why a friend of mine ought to enroll her kid in a Amelia Reggio (I hope that's the name) preschool! I described Bright Beginnings to her and I think she was impressed. Yay! I think you have the best preschool ever.

I know that's not on topic. I just wanted TO SAY IT. Love, Jess

P.S. WHERE HAVE I BEEN? I would have been reading this blog for a whole year now!!

kiri8 said...

The worst is the teacher who gives the children a packaged, step-by-step project and then has the chutzpah to call it Art. I do projects like that, but I call it learning how to follow directions, or learning how to use scissors and glue, not art.

Art is open-ended and creative, as you well know.

Too bad those kindergarten teachers don't know more about what a quality early childhood education looks like.

(I hate that "bubble in the mouth" thing. I do require that my students are quiet in the halls, so they can be safe and others can do their work, but the K teachers at my school do the "bubble" thing and it doesn't work. Their kids are noisy. I don't do the "bubble" thing, and my kids are quiet.)