The Stress of Kindergarten

Written by dad - 5 Comments

Boy, oh boy is this kindergarten thing stressful… Last night just before bed, Son #3 started expressing concern about the fact that kids who don’t finish their work don’t get to go to recess. While that seems like a perfectly reasonable rule, he was really getting worked up about it. When I took him aside and asked him about it, he said that he hadn’t ever missed recess, but he seemed really worried that it might happen. I then explained to him that it’s not supposed to be a scary rule, they just want to make sure that all of the kids sit down and get their work done instead of messing around. That seemed to pacify him, but…

Fast forward to this morning when his concerns resurfaced. This time it was just as we were sending the boys out the door to catch the bus. After a bit of questioning, my wife learned that his trepidation about the ‘no recess’ rule is because it’s a brand new rule that goes into effect today. Moreover, they’re each going to get three bands (or bracelets?) to put on their left wrist in the morning. Each time they talk out of turn, they’ll have to move a band from their left wrist to their right wrist — and if they end up moving all three, they’ll have to miss out on recess.

Apparently he’s especially concerned about the schoolwork rule because, as he says “I color so carefully that their aren’t any white spots left on the paper.” While we did our best to explain to him that the rules aren’t meant to be scary — they’re just there to teach them to work when it’s time to work and to not disrupt the class — he still got on the bus with tears in his eyes. Fortuantely, it wasn’t a full-on meltdown, but it was still heart breaking.

A couple of thoughts… For starters, being something of a perfectionist myself, I can definitely identify with his concerns about getting his work in a timely fashion will still meeting his own high standards. Also, while I’m hugely in favor of teaching kids the rules, I’m not crazy about the idea of withholding recess. This is especially true for little boys, who can get especially rambunctious when pent up in the classroom all day. I’m also not crazy about the idea of kids missing out on the social development and exercise that comes from free play in the school yard.

All of this being said, I’m sure he’ll adjust quickly and this will be a distant memory within a few days.

Published on September 12th, 2007 - 5 Comments
Filed under: Daily Life,Education
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Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. I’m with you… make them take the work home, give them a time out or send them to the principals… but no way take away exercise from the … uhh… kids (just really wanted to call them monsters… at least that what my boys turn into with out physical action).

    Comment by vw bug — Sep 12th 2007 @ 11:07 am
  2. I think taking away recess for not finishing work is a little severe… but taking it away for repeatedly talking out of turn isn’t. It will drive home the lesson quickly; there is a time for speaking and playing, and a time for being quiet.

    Then again, I went to an elementary school that used spanking as a punishment (an infraction so severe to merit spanking would usually also result in parents being called).

    Comment by Anitra — Sep 13th 2007 @ 5:32 pm
  3. I think that’s mean spirited. For Kindergarten aged kids, recess is so very important. It’s really where most of the ‘work’ of school happens, the learning how to get along with others. And, for most kids, they can’t focus later on if they haven’t spent time running around on the playground.

    The wrist bands seems like a distraction, a petty control issue. Too much like mice in a maze, imho…

    (and yes, I’m the parent of a second grader and a preschooler:-)

    Comment by RR — Sep 17th 2007 @ 4:16 pm
  4. Seems like this rule will backfire on the teachers. Keeping kids inside is going to push them to vent a bit of activity in the classroom.

    Our son also just started kindergarten. Somehow, he managed to “interact” with a kid that wanted to fight and push within the first few days. We had lots to talk about that weekend….

    Comment by Rob at Kintropy — Sep 24th 2007 @ 12:54 am
  5. Thank you so much. It is such a relief to know that my son isn’t the only one having troubles adjusting to kindergarten.

    Comment by Nova — Nov 26th 2007 @ 5:05 pm

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