They Will Shine in Their Own Time.

I have always been an academically challenging kindergarten teacher, but I have gone to great lengths to ensure that academic skills are taught through play. I nurture my students at their academic level, the level for which they are developmentally prepared. Consequently it saddens me to hear teachers discussing where a child should be instead of celebrating where a child is.

This picture is my 1st grade class in 1964. I can remember that 1st grade was the year that we learned alphabet letters could work together to make words, a handful of sight words, and why Dick, Jane and Sally looked up and looked down. And guess what!  As far as I know, everyone in this class turned out all right. In fact, most went on to achieve great things!  And, believe it or not,  I doubt anyone left Mrs. Little’s First Grade classroom reading any higher than a level D. Rather, everyone thrived celebrating their own pace of learning enjoying recesses and story time.

But today things are different. Children are being pushed beyond their developmental limits and frustration is the result. This frustration turns into self-defeating attitudes, behavioral issues, a dislike for school, and trips to the prinicpal. And -- I don’t blame them! Because having unrealistic expectations is just cruel. 

When I was in college, my roommates took me skiing. I had never skied before, yet I was taken to the top of the lift  up the highest slope, and there they went! My roommates took off! “WHAT DO I DO!” I screamed.  “Oh it is easy.” They replied. “Just put your toes together and go down the hill.” Well that was the last I saw them. I proceeded down the tallest slope in agony! I cried, I fell, I tried, I fell, I (swore), I fell, I even tried just walking sideways down the slope. When I made it to the bottom, battered, broken, and sore, I crawled to the lodge and curled up by the couch and could not quit crying.

Do you think that I ever tried skiing again? No way! I was beaten down by this experience, and my trust in those roommates was completely gone. I was expected to do what I simply could not! I did not have the proper preparation to complete the task.

So, before we worry that a child is not working at the level we feel that they should be (at least according to our pushed down curriculum), please remember that these children are in our care and they are trying to meet our expectations. But, maybe they are not quite there. Perhaps they need more practice in vowel sounds before they should be expected to spell words. Perhaps they should have more practice in number sense before expected to add two digit numbers, perhaps they should be given every opportunity to shine at their own time.


  1. Kathy, Thank you for writing this post. It is perfect! Thank you for standing up for our children. :)
    <3 Palma from

  2. Thank you Sarah. Teachers must lead the stand for developmentally appropriate teaching.

  3. room13buckaroos.blogspot.comOctober 25, 2014 at 7:12 AM

    Thank you, thank you! Mandated requirements have forgotten play, social learning, social skills....if we do not teach it in kindergarten what will happen to our world? Will anyone know how to work together? Many of these skills were taught in the home years ago. Now media is the teacher. I have worked hard to keep play in kindergarten but my "list" of thigs to teach that week is so big...the first center I pull is dramatic play! I HATE it.

  4. We all have to stick together and let this be known! I didn't even go to kindergarten, imagine that and I think I turned out alright too. My husband said all he remembers from kindergarten was building with blocks (so I know he wasn't reading when he left). And I really don't remember all the behavior issues we have now.


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