All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten….or Did I?

I may have to re-enroll in elementary school. How kids learn now is so different from the way we learned back in the day.

I think I need to go back to school.  Not for me, for my daughter. 

Last year my daughter, Manda, started kindergarten, and I thought all I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten.  Apparently not. 

Last September, I was introduced to the concept of kid writing.  What’s kid writing?  Well, I found out that it’s a way in which children who are learning how to write and express thoughts on paper can phonetically put letter combinations together on paper to try to write sentences—even if they cannot yet spell words correctly.

For example, if I were five years-old and wanted to write “I went to my grandmother’s house this weekend,” my kid writing sentence might look like this under my crayon-drawn picture of a house with grass, sunshine, and two stick figures:  “i wint to mi grnmthrz hows ths wknd”. 

Now that I wrote that, I'm thinking maybe kids that learn how to write this way will have the best advantage when it comes to deciphering texting-language, which to me, closely resembles “kid writing”. U no wut I mean?

I joke. Turns out, the kid writing method does work, and gets the youngsters off to a really good writing start without worrying about if words are spelled correctly and getting hung up on “i before e, except after c”.  Who knew.  But kid writing was something I had to learn, last year.  And I had to learn not to correct Manda’s spelling, which for a perfectionist like me, it is very hard to restrain myself from doing.

For someone like me, who learned from the get-go, this is how you spell words, and this is the correct spelling, this concept was hard for me to digest, and get used to, as I had to help my daughter with her homework. 

Yes, homework, in kindergarten.  That was something else new to me.  I don’t remember getting homework until I was in second grade, and even then it was a few spelling words to learn and some math problems.  Things have changed since the 80s. 

But one thing that hasn’t changed since the 80s is that I’m still getting homework, and I thought my school days were over.  Ha!   I probably spend an hour or two every week reading through directions to Manda’s homework either that comes home with her or online, so I know what she’s learning in school, how she’s doing it, and how I’m supposed to explain the directions to her when it’s homework time.  That’s my homework.

Then there’s “Fundations”.  Eh?  Back in my day we called it “phonics”.  I had to read through the pages of parent instructions to get the concept on this one.  My goal was to help my daughter understand the directions on her homework, not hinder her in that process, after all.

She came home from school last week having to underline “digraphs”.  Uh oh, I had to ask myself “What’s a digraph?”  I guess I forgot that term since spelling words with consonant combinations comes naturally to me at this point in my life.  You know, diagraphs – those “th”, “ck”, “sh” phonics combinations from back in our day.

And the math.  Well, I can get to the right answer when I check Manda’s homework to make sure that she’s doing what she’s supposed to be doing.  But how I get there is probably different from the way she’s learning how to do it right now.  And I don’t ever remember explaining  “how” I got the answer to a math problem in writing until I was in high school.  Yep, she’s doing that already in first grade.  “How did you count these 28 buttons drawn on this page?”  To me, the answer is evident, “Um, I counted them.”  See, this is where I would fail first grade math.  The correct answer could be something along the lines of “I placed x’s over each button as I counted them so I didn’t count them more than once.”

Well, as long as my daughter is “getting it”, that’s what counts.  And I know I’m not alone out there.  Friends of mine who have children in school can relate to the new ways that the kids are learning and they are learning, too.  I just feel like an old dog trying to learn new tricks.  Maybe I should go back to elementary school – well, I will, only if I can be six again!

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Beverly Gilbert November 01, 2011 at 07:33 PM
I agree! Children today learn entirely differently than we di in the 80's. I get funny faces from my son, a 3rd grader, when I try to help him with his math homework. I must confuse him more. I wonder if our parents felt the same when we were growing up.
Laura Madsen November 01, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Bev, maybe our parents did feel the same way; but my guess was we were a bit older when that happened - not in kindergarten! At least I didn't have homework yet at that age. :)


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