Friday, July 26, 2013

Halfway Through Kindergarten

With term three starting this week for Grace, we are halfway through the school year...well into the routine of early morning starts, the packing of lunchboxes and the ironing of uniforms.  Chatting yesterday with a friend over morning tea made me reflect on our journey so far, on my feelings and beliefs about educating little ones, on how we've grown as both a 'kindy kid' and a 'kindy parent' and on what has been great and what has made me sad...

Becoming a 'school Mum', I was very conscious of taking off my 'teacher's hat' and of slipping into my new role without any preconceived opinions.  Despite coming from a background in education however, everything has felt quite new to me standing on the other side, especially not having been in the classroom myself for several years now.  In many regards, kindy has been different to what I'd expected and from conversations with fellow parents and teaching colleagues, I'm not alone in my perceptions. Standards have shifted, expectations seem higher these days and there is more pressure from various influences.  I'm sad that it feels as though there is less of the 'free play' and time for creative expression, with a lot of the work hanging in Grace's classroom clearly linked to learning outcomes.  And while there have been many fun experiences such as pyjama days and teddy bear's picnics, our introduction to school life has felt quite full on.  Long days from 8.50 to 3.10 are the norm. Concepts once seen in a year one classroom are slowly filtering back into pre-primary and kindergarten.  Formal portfolios of work and reports are expected.  

On the positive side though, kindy has provided Grace with wonderful experiences... the chance to socialise with peers of her age, to form little friendships, to become more independent and to begin to develop her literacy and numeracy skills all while settling into the routine of school life.  Finding Grace's jottings around the house with 'words' made up of actual letters, her name scrawled on anything and everything and hearing her role play 'teachers and students' with Sophie and her toys truly makes me smile.  Hearing her make remarks like, "Mummy, I know another word that starts with the 's' sound! Snail!" and seeing her practising skills she's picked up in class make me excited for all that Grace has grasped already and for all the wonderful learning adventures she has ahead of her in the coming years.

And while the house is a lot quieter on the two days my sweet girl is at school (three days on each alternate week) and while Sophie spends a good portion of the morning asking me 'Gace?  Gace?', I often find myself looking over at our empty kitchen table where Grace is normally found engaged in some creative activity, wondering what it is she's learning about, hoping she's having a good time and looking forward to hearing all about it as we sit down after school together over afternoon tea, sharing snippets of our days...


  1. Hi Amanda, I'm glad Grace is settling into kindly as well as Bec is. It's a relief when they love school and you don't have to pry them off you in the morning....however I feel school isn't what it once was and I don't feel kids are learning as good as they could be....I really think teaching has changed too much and so I have decided I'll be homeschooling Francis when the time comes with the three r's being the main focus.....and an extra r for repetition......also I love homeschooling as it gives such freedom to pick and choose what and how to teach.....xo

  2. Hi, My youngest son is also half way through kindy, i did live in perth but im now in tassie. I have noticed that there is a lot more structure and emphasis on learning to write and read in kindy. But i think this can only be a good thing, having had 2 children (now young adults) already gone through the system in WA it is very easy for them to be left behind, I am really pleased with what little one is learning. He loves kindy too and has a great time playing with his 'mates', girls are yukky!!
    I really enjoy reading your posts, have a great week.

  3. I was thinking about you this past week and wondering how Grace is settling in to her new school. I hope she is finding it okay so far.

    You are right, there is such a bit push now for everything to happen earlier. This is fine for those who are ready but so sad to watch those who you just know they are struggling and need to simply play and learn social skills for a year before anything further. So far in Kindy this year we have learnt about syllables, rhyming words, we've learnt half the sounds of the alphabet (although most of the kids don't know them all yet) and we're working on listening for the starting sound in words. We're also trying to encourage writing and all sorts of numeracy skills. The pressure is well and truly on the poor little souls.

  4. I can't believe we're already in term 3!! It just feels like last week that Grace was starting Kindy :(
    I'm so happy that she's settled. I noticed Ella 'grew up' a lot in that Kindy year.
    I do miss her at home during the week but am also loving the one on one time with Ryder. Every now and then, I dance with the idea of homeschooling but she is having such a good time at school and LOVES the social side, so I doubt we'll go down that path.

  5. I enjoy reading your blog and seeing your lovely photos of your children and your life.
    My friends who are kindergarten teachers here in NSW often express the same sentiments as you, when they began teaching there was much more time for play in the classroom, now there are mountains of sight words to learn. At the other end, my daughter in year 10 has to write essays of the standard I remember doing in year 12. Coincidentally, she began a week of work experience in a kindergarten class today!
    Enjoy these days, they go fast!

  6. Oh lovely time does go by too fast doesn't it and although you would like to keep them home with you always you know you can't, that it is so wonderful to see them grow. It is a shame though how serious schooling has become, that our little ones need to grow up that much faster than we had to which is sad. I always find the holidays something that I look forward to and cherish just so I get to see my girls that bit more. I hope you've had a lovely week of chats about kindy. xx

  7. So interesting to hear your thoughts on this, Amanda. A little sad about high expectations at such a young age. I'd always love to hear more about your experiences as a school mum - I think your perspective would be a very wise one xx


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