From crayons to calculus
by Jennifer Cohron
Aug 08, 2010 | 2174 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This week, I walked into my old kindergarten class to talk with my beloved kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Brown, about a few things parents need to teach their kids before their first day of school.

I left about an hour later stunned and panicked that my three-month-old son is already behind.

Wyatt eats, excretes, sleeps and giggles. He's a master thumb-sucker, a pro at holding his head up and has rolled onto his stomach by himself once or twice.

I thought he was doing great, maybe even a little ahead of the curve. Now I know that we have some work to do since he didn't come out of the womb writing his name.

Of course, I'm exaggerating, but not by much. Here are just a few things that have changed since I was in Mrs. Brown's kindergarten class.

They count to 100. We counted to 10.

They start learning to read the first week of kindergarten. We didn't worry about that until the first grade.

They have a computer lab. We would've said, "Windows, what?"

George H.W. Bush was president while I was in kindergarten, so I expected that things were a lot different now. I just wasn't prepared for the extent of the change.

I even asked Mrs. Brown if my generation was dumber than the ones that followed us. Maybe we should just skip our turn running the country and let our kids take over right after they learn to tie their shoes.

I won't be disappointed if Wyatt is smarter than me. I just thought my college degree would give me the edge at least through his years in junior high.

I am concerned that the expectations are so high for Wyatt and his future friends that they won't have much time to just be kids.

I remember loving my years in elementary school. Coach Jones' P.E. class was especially fun because he let our imaginations run wild.

The playground equipment was pretty old, but I don't think most of us spent a lot of time on it anyway.

I was a member of a girls club that met at the tree on the corner. If we had an official name, I've long since forgotten it.

The boys club met at the opposite end of the playground by the big rock. Although we had a big rock too, theirs had more writing on it.

I don't recall the mission of these clubs other than raiding each other's clubhouse every now and then. I think the point of these "raids" was to touch the other group's big rock and then run back to your own.

I believe a wedding also took place on the playground, but I don't remember if I attended. Hopefully, I at least sent the bride and groom a nice box of crayons.

I know I learned to read and write, add and subtract and all the other fundamentals, but I don't remember the experience being that stressful.

Schoolwork was a little easier for me than some of the other kids. I credit supportive parents and Sesame Street.

However, I also wanted to learn, and I probably wouldn't have if it felt like something I was doing to meet No Child Left Behind standards.

I don't mind Wyatt's teachers having high expectations. It's a changing world, and I want them to prepare him for it.

However, I will not allow his childhood to be stolen from him. I'll make sure he does his homework, but I also plan to set aside some time every day for him to color, dig in the dirt or whatever he wants to do.

If that makes my kid one of the ones left behind, the Secretary of Education is welcome to take it up with me.