Tag Archives: standards

Admissions Anxiety

It’s that time of year—when students anxiously await word from the prestigious schools they’ve applied to ….

This week, a mother came into the preschool in tears. Her child had just been interviewed for admission into kindergarten. She sat with an administrator who listed all of the ways that her son failed to measure up to the standards of this great school. Standards that included writing his name, knowing the alphabet, knowing his home phone number. This is half-way through his first year of preschool. “It takes a lot to make me cry,” she tells us.

Of course, from the school’s perspective, this is all easily explained, and a parent would be foolish not to see the writing on the wall. If my child is not prepared for kindergarten, they will be behind from the beginning. Other children, ahead of the curve, will get more attention and affirmation from teachers and my child will be slowly left behind. The downward spiral starts now: my child is doomed. Might as well get used to being at the bottom of the heap.

This mother (who is not given to these kinds of extremes, thankfully) said they never asked what her child’s interests are. They might have learned that he’s been to sixteen of California’s missions, and could give a history lesson. They didn’t learn how well he does sitting attentively in circle-time, and if they had asked they might have realized that while he does not have certain facts in hand, he is ready and eager to learn.

It gives us hope to hear that mom was asked by an administrator at another school (she has applied to seven) to share three things that make her son special. That’s more like it.

Academic Anxiety

We parents want the best for our kids, right? When we put them in school we want the experience to be positive, and we want our child to excel. The good news is that the simple experience of moving through the school year almost always prepares a child for what comes next: they get smarter and find social situations easier.

The bad news is that our anxiety about our children’s success always defaults to academics. We worry about giving them an advantage for future academic challenges, and that leads to our desire to have more academics now. This is a erosive trend. If we always press to get our children ahead of the curve in anticipation of next year’s challenges, we will have to do more and more academic prep earlier and earlier. The logical conclusion of this trend is flash cards for infants, or beaming lessons into the womb with strap-on speakers, or maybe a little something at the genetic level. Junior should have every advantage.

What’s the rush? How about instead of worrying so much about getting our children ahead before the lessons even start, we simply help them to arrive ready?