Kindergarten Ain’t What It Used To Be

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of May 1, 2017

Kindergarten — I still remember my kindergarten years. Mrs. Lewis was my teacher, and kindergarten in those days was half days. You either were assigned to morning or afternoon kindergarten.

Since I was only 5 at the time, I don’t remember what we had to know before we started that phase of our school life. I probably knew my colors and could count to maybe 100 or not. I don’t remember, but if I did know those things it was because of my mother, being a former teacher, took the time to teach me the basics. But it wasn’t close to anything those entering kindergartens have to know today.

A friend of mine who works in an area school recently showed me the list of desirable skills the kindergarten students of next year need to know before entering kindergarten. She attended school somewhere around the time I did, maybe a few years later, and was astounded at what needed to happen before these tiny little people could enter school.

I would assume today’s young parents know what D’Nealian handwriting is, because a child needs to know how to print their name in D’Nealian handwriting. I had to look it up. D’Nealian is a style of writing and teaching cursive, print and block handwriting, derived from the Palmer Method. How many of you know what the Palmer Method is?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not protesting all of the skills a child needs. Some on the list were: Recognize difference between upper and lowercase letters, shows an interest in learning, can attend to one activity for 10 to 15 minutes independently, has a working understanding of basic vocabulary words, can draw simple figures, can color within a given space, can grip a pencil correctly, stays in own space, can get along with a group, able to express a thought in words, and there are more stipulations. It is quite a list.

I know I did not know all of those things before I went to school. I have a feeling our list was quite short. The one thing I do remember is the rug we had to bring for our naps. Kindergarten was fun. When we first got there it was play time. Then we settled down and had a story. Some days we had show and tell. We did have teaching time but it wasn’t too long. Then we had a snack and a nap. It was a time of learning how to get along with others and learning basics to get us ready for first grade. And it was only three hours. I would say in my day and age the most basic function it served was for us to learn how to interact with each other.

There was no preschool in my day. We were kids. We played outside and played with friends or kids in the neighborhood. Our day was not scheduled with learning. We did learn while playing. We played house. We played cops and robbers. We played school. We had fun with no stress.

I wonder at the importance of coloring within a given space. To me, that says color inside the lines. Coloring inside the lines caused me great stress because I am not a color-inside-the-lines person. Why is it important to learn to color inside the lines in kindergarten? They should be exploring their child creativity, and it shouldn’t be wrong at that age to forget about the lines.

I don’t know if I still know how to hold a pencil correctly. As a parent, would I know how to teach my child to correctly hold a pencil, or would I have to ask someone for help? They probably taught me that in kindergarten, but in the scheme of life it wasn’t important enough to retain that knowledge.

A pre-requisite for attending kindergarten seems to be preschool or early childhood education. Because we didn’t have that in my day, did it hamper our learning experiences in elementary, grade school, high school and college? Were we dumbed down because we didn’t have this advance learning experience?

In spite of all the advances in education, we here in the United States seem to be lagging other countries when it comes to education. According to Pew Research, the United State ranks in the middle of the pack in education, behind many other industrialized nations.

There is a push going on in the Legislature to provide vouchers so children can go to private schools and attend more early childhood education programs so no child is left out. It doesn’t seem to be working to send our kids to school earlier and earlier. Will it work to provide vouchers to families to send more kids to early childhood education or preschool or to make private schools available to those with poor economic status?

I don’t know the answer, but in the rankings, the nations that rank the highest have public education. They pour government money into the public schools to educate all. The schools aren’t funded according to neighborhoods or school districts. They have quality schools and education for all. Perhaps, instead of lowering the age and qualification of what children need to know, or providing vouchers that still might discriminate because of parental choice on seeking them out, it might be better to funnel that money into our public education system and treat all schools equally, no matter where they sit in a geographical area. Perhaps we should put our money toward paying quality teachers who have the future of our children in their hands.

That is just my opinion based on an old person’s view of what could be important for our children. But what do I know? I am not sure how to hold a pencil, and I color outside of the lines and I didn’t know what D’nealian is. It must be because I only had kindergarten three hours a day and then I took naps.

Extra Trash or a Stash?

First published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of January 31, 2016

Something About Nothing

Do you have a stack of magazines you haven’t read from years back? I do. It wasn’t an intentional stash. I would receive my AARP magazine or my Good Housekeeping and intend to read it the day it was delivered. Of course, something else would come up, and I would put it on the stack. Today I am sorting through the stack.

Let me clarify that I love magazines. They are part of my reading world. The first magazine I picked up was an AARP magazine from 2015. I glanced through it and put it in recycling. I felt what was relevant in 2015 won’t fly in 2017.

The next magazine was a writer’s magazine. I put that in the to-read pile. I plan on reading it today. I decided to go through my stack and designate today as a reading day.

I have a little eccentricity problem. I also keep magazine pages. I will read a magazine and find an article I think I might want to reference in the future, so I tear it out and put it in a folder in my file cabinet. I do the same thing with recipes I want to try. With the recipes, you might remember I don’t really like to cook, but I love to save recipes for the day when I am going to become a master chef. And then — wait for it — I never look at that folder in the file cabinet again until I am cleaning it out.

Once a year I clean out my file cabinet. I pull the folder out and decide I probably don’t need anything in that folder and decide to toss it — but then I stop and think that I might have stashed something else in the folder in a moment of hurry, I check the items in the folder. You guessed it ­— when going through it, I look at the articles or recipe, and it is almost like the first time I saw it, and I decide to put it back in the folder. The same goes for product or appliance manuals. Does anyone ever go back and read appliance manuals? I have appliance manuals from appliances I don’t remember ever having.

This year has been a better year. My house is getting emptier. It hasn’t been hard to let go of some things, but anything to do with reading makes me feel as if I am giving or throwing a part of me away. That includes books. I love books.

E-books have simplified my life. When I take a weekend or longer trip I don’t carry around the suitcases or bags full of books that I usually do. I put the Kindle in my purse, and I have plenty to read for as long as I am gone. Getting rid of books and magazines I can touch and feel and smell seems sacrilegious — there is something about the smell of books that make me feel as if I am eating and smelling a gourmet meal. It is the book lover inside of me that has an insatiable appetite.

My magazine stack isn’t just one type of magazine. I have Good Housekeeping, AARP, Do It Yourself, Guideposts, Prevention and Writer’s Digest. I have varied tastes. If I am in Barnes and Noble or a bookstore, the magazine section is a magnet for me. It happens in the grocery store, too, and in the grocery store those magazines are there tempting me to buy as I check out. What’s another little item purchase on my grocery bill?

You would think, considering all the magazines in my stack, they would make me smarter. You would think I could ace those trivia questions on trivia night because of my magazine stash. The problem with that scenario is I first have to read the magazines, and then I have to remember what I read.

My stash is going today. Some will go to the library. Some will go to recycling. It is going to be a marathon reading day. If you catch me tonight I might actually remember something I read, but if I don’t, it actually doesn’t matter to me unless it comes up in a trivia question next week. I am reading for the pure joy of reading. I will immerse myself in fluff, facts, home improvement, decorating, inspiration, meditation, and stories that will give me a brief respite from what is happening today in our world. And if I don’t remember it and I keep the books and magazines, when I go through them again to toss, it will seem like the first time I have read them. Sometimes having a short memory is a plus. Look at all the new reading material I have.

Add on note: My paper stash of magazines is almost gone. Yikes, now my Kindle is full, and it is telling me I have to delete some books and magazines. Does that mean I can’t keep the last year of DIY on my Kindle? How can I ever let it go to the cloud? What if the cloud fails and it rains out to cyberspace all my reading material? My vision is cloudy. Will that vision become reality? Will my cloud get full, too, and they will tell me to get off of my cloud? I guess The Rolling Stones were visionaries when they told us to get off of their cloud. Who knew?

The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors and Julie Seedorf on Tour

Blog Tour 2016Starting Monday May 23 I am going on a Blog Tour with the Great Escapes Tour Company and Escape With Dollycas. Thank you Lori Caswell for arranging it for me. If you are an author and are looking for someone to arrange a blog tour than I highly recommend Great Escapes. If you are a reader and you want to find new books by wonderful authors follow the Dollycas site and see who she is promoting and who is visiting. Meanwhile join me each day on my blog tour. I have some guest posts and some interviews and reviews of my new book The Penderghast Puzzle Protectors. There are even a few giveaways. Here is the list and keep stopping in to find out where I am. Thank you ahead of time to all those that took the time to host me. I appreciate you.

May 23 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

May 23 – T’s StuffSPOTLIGHT

May 24 – The Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHT

May 25 – Lori’s Reading Corner – GUEST POST

May 26 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

May 27 – Omnimystery News – INTERVIEW – 

May 28 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

May 29 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW, GUEST POST

May 30 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & , Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

May 31 – LibriAmoriMieiREVIEW

June 1 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – COZY WEDNESDAY – GUEST POST

June 2 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW, GUEST POST

June 3 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW

June 4 – Book Babble – REVIEW