One School's Checklist Proves Kindergarten Really Is The New First Grade

by Mike Julianelle
Originally Published: 

Intense letter listing school’s pre-kindergarten requirements is stressing parents out

School is stressful, for everyone. With schedules and homework and grades and the PTA and social circles and more, a lot is expected of kids and their parents. And it seems like every year, standards get higher.

Parents of incoming kindergartners at a school in Tennessee found that out recently when they received a letter from their district informing them of everything their children need to know before that first bell rings.

A parent in Hamilton County posted the list on Reddit and it is making the rounds. Once you read it, you’ll understand why. The list, entitled “Is Your Child Ready for Kindergarten?” is, as the parent who posted the image on Reddit referred to it, “unrealistic.”

The list includes:

  • Write their name
  • Hold a pencil the correct way
  • Follow along in a book

Children are supposed to have a grasp on all of this stuff before they get to kindergarten? I don’t know about that. Maybe some of the kids are doing this, sure, and if yours is one of them, more power to you. But making these requirements before they’ve been in kindergarten for even a day is, I don’t know, insane?

My son just finished kindergarten, and while he can do most of the things on this list now, there were some he definitely couldn’t handle a year ago — nor should he have been expected to. But sadly, while this letter certainly seems extreme, it’s not a total outlier. Everything is accelerated now, including expectations. Kindergarten is the new first grade, and that’s a direct quote from one of my son’s kindergarten teachers, who has been doing this for twenty-plus years.

I remember what it used to be like. When I was in kindergarten, not only were the days shorter, they included at least one nap, a few sing-alongs, maybe some milk and cookies, and zero homework. Homework for a kindergartener used to be unthinkable. But not anymore. At least not at my son’s school, where we often had to interrupt his LEGO time to make sure he got his assignments done.

What’s reassuring is that this new normal doesn’t seem to sit well with anyone, including teachers.

In several meetings I’ve been in with various teachers, they’ve bemoaned the increased expectations for all young kids, explaining that if it were up to them, things would be a lot less structured and a lot less intense. But these are administrative, governmental decisions. All the teachers can do is teach the mandated curriculum and reassure parents that it’s okay if your child isn’t grasping first-grade level skills while still in kindergarten.

Apparently the teachers in Hamilton County who created this of kindergarten requirements aren’t quite so level-headed.

Oh, and the best item on that list?

  • Identify 30+ letters

Last time I checked, there were 26 letters in the alphabet. Maybe they’re teaching Dothraki? I hope those kids get properly trained before they’re allowed to ride their dragons.

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