My son just turned 5. This feels like a very symbolic birthday. The end of baby, toddler and little kid. After the summer, he will join his sister in elementary school and go to Kindergarten. For him, this will be the first time he is away from me all day. It will be a big adjustment for him to go to school all day, and although I know he's at the appropriate level and age for Kindergarten, I wonder if he is truly ready. I know he will be fine eventually, but this is not the Kindergarten we remember.
Kindergarten is like the new first grade. There is even a term "red shirting”, for when parents actively choose to hold their kids back to give them an extra leg up. When my son starts at five years and four months old there will be kids turning 7 at some point in the year. The curriculum is much harder when we were young. They are expected to learn to read, write and do addition and subtraction. I know of a current kindergartner whose mom told her she has a play kitchen in her class, but the girl didn't know because it's hidden away. Playing is no longer how they are teaching kids to learn in Kindergarten, and it's a shame.
Of course I could home school my kid, send him to an expensive private school, or try for a Waldorf-type philosophy, but then we walk away from our local public school and take a step out of our community. We can't always get (or can't always afford) exactly what we want. We can try to make changes here and there, and we have to accept what is offered and take it or leave it. All of these life lessons I share with my children, but sometimes I have a hard time accepting them myself. The public school system has it's flaws, but it also has a lot going for it. I just wish it wasn't such a hard start for the little kids or such a big group for the older ones.
Our kids in this country have so much pushing them to grow up faster and faster. Social media exposes them to things prematurely. Peer pressure and bullying run rampant, and innocence seems shorter lived these days. I am doing the best I can to keep my kids young while they are actually young. I wish Kindergarten would bring back sandboxes, water tables, and tricycles. Let's let them have fun while they still can.