As part of the Daisy Troop Cookie Drive, my daughter, her friend A, and the mothers sold cookies at Old Navy today. As all mothers do, we began chatting away on a variety of topics. (Both of our husbands travel extensively for work, so I've found another mom who identifies with me!!) Our conversation turned to school, and I soon became saddened by what she shared.
She volunteers as part of the school Kids Reads program, and mentors a young kindergarten child. As her meetings progressed, she felt the child was reading okay and had a conversation with the teacher. What transpired, bothered and saddened this mom. Because the school district has a high achieving clientele, the gap between those working on grade level and those above grade level is so great. This kindergarten child was one at grade level and the teacher was using the mentor to help bridge that gap. My heart cried for this young child.
This mom also shared that her daughter, A, is one of those students. Her teacher is asking her to frontload A with material at home so that she can be ready when those concepts are introduced. A is doing homework all the time. I gave the mom my favorite educational website www.gamequarium.com that A can do at home, which is more fun than paper/pencil worksheets.
All afternoon I've been marinating this notion that "on grade level" is not good enough. What are we teaching our students at the young age of 6 or 7? Where is the differentiation? If a true workshop model was in place, wouldn't kids like A succeed along their own continuum? Children need to be cherished and honored for the work they do. When I think of all the great leaders of our time, were they told they were not good enough?