Preschool and eighth grade math | Mark’s Remarks - Republic-Times | News

Preschool and eighth grade math | Mark’s Remarks

By on June 11, 2019 at 4:54 pm

Every year when little ones get ready to go to kindergarten, we hear stories of kindergarten screenings.  When I was at the elementary school, I loved to visit the screening rooms and peek in at the little ones, all excited and getting ready for school.

Once, my class of older, wiser kiddos was walking down the hallway and observed the even younger preschool kids excitedly being lead into the screening rooms by volunteers and kindergarten teachers.  

“Look at how excited those kids are! They are eager to start school,” I said as we passed.     

“Maybe we should warn them,” said a wiseacre in the back of the line.

Not only are the little ones ready for school. In most cases, parents are ready too. Sure, it’s an emotional time, but it’s a new time in their lives.  Not to mention, childcare costs go away when kids start school. For the most part, anyway.

However, the darker side of preschool screening can rear its ugly head from time to time, and there’s nothing worse than hearing your child may not be ready for kindergarten.

I remember several times that an irate parent would be in the principal’s office, ranting and raving because one of the screeners told them their child wasn’t ready for kindergarten. How dare they! This sort of news can make parents pretty upset.

OK, so let me defend parents for a minute. I can completely sympathize and understand being upset if you get such news. It’s hard to take. Emotions regarding our children can cause us to be irrational and downright crazy.

But I need to ask you something. If your child goes to kindergarten screening, and then you’re told he/she is not ready, ask yourself why you are being told this. I’ll give you the answer: it’s a professional opinion. The people screening your child are professionals, often with years of experience. They aren’t punishing you. They have nothing to gain from telling you your child isn’t ready.  They are, in fact, saving you from a future possibly marked with learning issues and more heartache. 

It’s hard to hear, but I’d advise you to listen to them.

On a few occasions when I taught lower grades, I’d have a parent conference with parents who probably received the bad news at preschool screening. Yet, as they have the option, they sent their child anyway. At least one of those parents told me “We should have listened. She wasn’t ready to start school.” Hindsight.

Folks, if you are told your child isn’t ready, then they aren’t ready. Listen.  Follow the advice of the screener. In the long run, an extra few months of maturity and a chance to get a little more preschool under his/her belt will be good for your child. Take this from a professional who has almost 30 years’ experience dealing with all this. We know what we are talking about.

Furthermore, if your child has a hard time in kindergarten, please hold them back. It’s much easier to do that when they are younger.  It’s especially much easier for the child.

The same sort of things happens later in their school careers too. Students “test” to see where they fall in the area of math aptitude.  Some students test high enough to be chosen for an advanced math class.

One year, a few parents were downright furious that their children weren’t included in the advanced math class. Yet the test itself isn’t flawed. There are very distinct factors testing these kids. If your child didn’t meet the requirements to be included in the advanced class, then that’s that. End of story. Sorry, but your kid didn’t make it.

That should be where the story ends. Am I right?

The same thing is happening in high schools.  Parents are throwing fits that their children are not included in advanced classes, so we have a large amount of students who don’t have the aptitude to be in an advanced class. They don’t make the grades they are supposed to, parents throw more fits, and the teachers end up lowering standards and changing the curriculum to meet the needs of kids who shouldn’t be in there in the first place.

Parents, wise up.  Leave these matters to the people who know what they are doing and stop placing burdens on your school districts by barging in and throwing a fit every time you think your child has been slighted. Remember, the school district has to look at all kids, not just yours. 

Invest in your child, of course. But put some faith in the people who know what they are doing.

Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.