Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Two-Month Summer?

Yesterday was the last day of the school year for public school kids where I live. That's right: The poor things were stuck in school until June 26.

OK, maybe that doesn't seem so remarkable to you, but I'm old enough to remember when the school year went from just after Labor Day to just after Memorial Day, and summer was three blissful months long.

Kindergarten, back in these ancient times, was a half-day affair: three hours in either the morning or the afternoon. You made friends, played with blocks and dress ups, had show'n'tell, played on the playground, sang some songs ... and went home, where you played some more.

Maybe you can still find kindergartens like that somewhere. But more are like my neighborhood public school: Five-year-olds stuck in classrooms for a full day, expected mainly to sit at desks and either listen quietly or do worksheets. Recess is brief and often inside. And play time? As the "gifted and talented" kindergarten teacher at the school explained it to me, "Well, the children have a half hour of 'choice time' at the end of the day, if they get through all their academics first. And we find that keeps them very on task all day long."

Well, humbug to that. And humbug to full-day school for five-year-olds, and a ten-month school year for anyone. We'll be opting out of official kindergarten and doing it ourselves instead, thank you very much ... and this blog will report back on how it goes.