I Hate Kindergarten- This Mom’s Rant

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Last August, before Jack, began kindergarten, we went to the library.  We checked out the story books about kindergarten.  They told happy, hopeful tales of adorable little animals going off to play in classrooms filled with toys and free time.  They talked about naptime, snack, kindly teachers, helpful friends, and recess.

We registered Jack for kindergarten at a private school because we needed full day school with after care.  Our work schedules couldn’t accomodate half day kindergarten.  We thought it would be a nice transition from his progressive pre-school/daycare where he had been since infancy.

Armed with positive attitudes, we purchased crisp uniforms, healthy snacks, and a little mat for rest time.

Fast forward six months:  It is a Herculean feat to get Jack up in the morning and ready for school.

Tantrums ensue.

Jack trudges out of the school building at the end of the day, the weight of the world in his backpack.  He barely talks in the car on the way home.  Once home, he curls up on the couch with his blankie, stating he’s tired.  He doesn’t want to play, or have snack.  He prickles if I ask him about his day.

Tantrums ensue.

Jack trotted off happily in September.  He came home his first day stating he couldn’t wait to get homework.

Wait, homework?  In kindergarten?  Um, don’t children’s brains pretty much shut off for the day at like 3 p.m.?   (I’m just a lowly child and family therapist, but I thought I read that somewhere.)   How were we expected to do homework with our child after getting home from work around 6 p.m.?  Maybe it would just be coloring pages or family reading time, I thought optomistically.

Nope.  Jack gets math and literacy homework, plus reading.  Every night.  To his credit, he puts time and effort into it, sometimes to the point of being up past bedtime, his overtired brain short-circuiting because he can not find the exact shade of blue-green with which to color, which in turn leads to a tantrum, which prolongs bedtime, which exacerbates his exhaustion, which. . .  you get the picture.

One night I cuddled with him at bedtime.  He mentioned an abrasion he had on his arm from falling on the playground.  “Ben tripped me,” he said.

“Wow buddy,” I sighed.  “Kindergarten is pretty stressful, huh?”

“Yeah,” he replied, and thought a moment before adding, “We don’t even get nap time anymore, because we are ‘sposed to be getting ready for first grade, so I’m always tired.  And we hardly ever get to play at centers either.  It’s just all work.”

I stayed with him, rubbed his back and ruffled his hair until he fell asleep.  It will all be okay, I whispered, before leaving his room.

The exchange left me depressed, questioning if we should have waited a year for him to start institutionalized education.  It also left me guilty that we work and can’t be with him more during the week, that we can’t afford to home school or send him to an alternative setting where his sensitive, creative soul would be nurtured.

I hate kindergarten.

I hate seeing my kid stressed and miserable.  I hate doing homework with him at 6:30 at night, or worse, rushing him through it in the morning.

I hate seeing the world of education trying to pulverize his heart and soul to fit into some stupid box.

I hate that Jack has lost some of his innocence since starting kindergarten.  One morning, before the bell I witnessed a “big boy” on the playground shouting rap lyrics at my son and his five year old cohorts, while gyrating his hips and gesticulating at his crotch.  I hate that Jack is exposed to so many “unknowns” in terms of his classmates and family cultures that may not be as conservative as ours.  I hate that he thinks this “big boy” behavior is cool, and then gets “behavior needs improvement” checked on his progress report.

I hate that I feel like “That Mom,” when I advocate for my child, you know, the one who always complains and never believes her kid does anything wrong.

I hate that  Jack is graded and judged.

Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I have valued Jack’s education since day one.  We read to him and encourage exploration and experimentation.  We made big sacrifices to have Jack attend a daycare/pre-school that nurtured intelligence.  We put a positive face forward about kindergarten for our little guy.

Jack has a good teacher who he likes.  I have nothing but respect and fondness for her, but this education system, in my humble opinion, has it all wrong.  There is such a rush to grow our children with so little respect for the process involved.

In my professional practice, I see many kids drop out of school.  They are square pegs that the system has been trying to cram into round holes, and sick of it, they give up.  At the other end of the spectrum, I see  kids Jack’s age who are sick with anxiety by what the world expects of them and develop school refusal and psychosomatic issues.  I encourage these kids to develop good self care and strategies to deal with their worries, or to find alternative paths to education.

All too often the bad taste they have for learning sticks.  Further, if a kid doesn’t grow in the “traditional” path of school, college etc. to adulthood, it legitimizes other paths to adulthood, such as through teen pregnancy, drugs, and gangs.  While not every kid who drops out is going to join a gang to fit into a system, it is a concern.

Jack will pull through.  In this fact I have every confidence.  We will hug him, encourage him, and give him hope.  In the meantime, I would like to tell kindergarten that I think it is poopy and stupid, and it stinks like broccoli farts.

I will keep this thought to myself.

Please read my follow up post to this piece here.  

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80 responses »

  1. I got chills reading about this kindergarten. My son is 2 and just adjusted to his all day “school” and I feel so protective of your son reading this! It’s really sobering. I know we didn’t have homework in kindergarten.

  2. I agree. My daughter is in 1st grade, but I had some of these thoughts too last year. There are still days when I just hate sending her to school in general. She is tired, cranky, and gets 15 minutes to scarf down some food. Anyway, it’s so so hard and I understand.

    • Does it get better in first grade? I am hoping that things will kind of even out by then, in terms of his energy level and emotional maturity. . . It is really hard to try to foster mindfulness in a child when we are constantly having to rush them!!

  3. Wow! As an Elementary School Administrator that is spending 80% of my day in the testing room because I have to get standardized test after standardized test together I feel for you.
    The testing room is smack in the middle of my four Kindergarten rooms. I hear the teachers teaching away, and until now I felt good! You see, I am the one telling the Kindergarten teachers to stop playing and start getting those students ready and reading, yes, reading. I am the one that checks their copies and frowns upon copies that are not print rich and are there just for fluff.
    How did I get this way? Well, I MUST make sure that Kindergarten children are reading before they go to first grade, once they get to first grade, they must leave there reading at least 1000 words so that second grade can get them ready for third grade. You see, if they don’t pass the third grade standardized test, they will be retained. I don’t want that, so when my Kindergarten babies come in, all I can see is getting them ready to succeed in third grade. Sad, but true! I am being honest with you!
    As a Parent and Teen Life Coach, I get you!
    I feel bad for Jack and my 77 Kindergarten babies, but as the Assistant Principal, I MUST make sure ALL Kindergarten students are ready to learn and reading before they leave Kindergarten.
    Not an easy position for either you and I to be in, but what are we to do?

    • Thanks for your perspective. . . while I appreciate the constraints that teachers and administrators work under/with, I still think it is sad that are kids are rushed so much. I couldn’t do your job, so thanks for being out there working away on all that hard stuff! Thanks again for reading and taking the time to make such a thoughtful comment.

    • and what about their social development. What good is a braniac with no friends? I’ll tell you.. My grandson has known his abc’s since 18 months and learned basic Spanish by two. He held a conversation with an adult using words like condensation and responsibility at age 3. He blew people away….and then, he went to transitional kindergarten because of his age (born in Nov.) and he hates it. He tells me he has no friends and he tries to talk to the kids and they just turn the other way. It breaks my heart but I know it’s because he doesn’t relate to them and they don’t relate to him. He should probably be in a class with older kids but public school won’t evaluate him based on his social awkwardness. They see him as a five year old who didn’t make the cut off date to go into regular kindergarten and now his little face gets red and his eyes fill with tears when he is dropped off at the place where he is told is a great place to be.

      • Good point Raquel. It sounds like your kiddo is another square peg that they are trying to cram into a round hole. Makes me so sad. And of course schools that would cater to the intelligence of kids like ours are soooo expensive. I can only pray that these guys find their niches. I have faith they will. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and for stopping by my little blog! Please come back and visit again soon!

  4. SOUNDED PRETTY BAD WHEN I FIRST READ YOUR POST BUT THEN I THOUGHT BACK TO WHEN I WENT TO KINDERGARTEN (1951), AGE 5 . . .

    PARENTS TOOK TURNS WALKING KIDS TO SCHOOL ABOUT 4 BLOCKS AWAY IN GROUPS OF ABOUT FIVE KIDS. KIDS WERE DROPPED OFF AT THE PLAYGROUND, INSIDE THE FENCE, AND PARENTS WENT HOME . . . NO HANGING AROUND. BREAKFAST WAS EATEN AT HOME PRIOR TO SCHOOL. WE ALL ATE TOGETHER IN THE CAFETERIA FOR LUNCH. BATHROOMS WERE SOMEWHERE DOWN THE HALL – I DON’T REMEMBER WHERE. NO BUDDY SYSTEM – YOU JUST WENT TO THE BATHROOM AND CAME BACK TO CLASS. NO NAPS. BUT IT WAS ONLY 6 HOURS (9 TO 3).

    WE ALL SURVIVED.

    • Why all the yelling Rick?

      In 1981 when I was in kindergarten it was not all day, we did not have homework and we learned through play. My daughter started kindergarten this year and we all (her, Daddy and I) hate it. She has at least 45 minutes of homework per night (that definitely doesn’t get done every night because she gets over tired) and does not like to get up in the morning to go to school. In fact many nights she says “momma, I think that I am gonna be too sick to go to school tomorrow.” She doesn’t have time to eat all of her lunch and freaking lunch time is at 10:45am.

      It breaks my heart and it angers me that school is now all about test scores and not actual learning or the love of learning. If we could afford to live on my husband’s income I would gladly pull her out of kindergarten and start home schooling with her.

      • Sing it sister! I can so relate to what you are saying. My little boy complained that he had stomach aches and was exhausted all year. He did adjust. . . just in time for summer vacation. I wrote that post about six months back, and since then he has started first grade. OMG is all I can say. I too wish I could afford to stay home and home school, but that’s not our lot in life either. Anyway, thank you so much for stopping by and for your thoughtful comment and support! Hope to see ya here again at Momasteblog!

    • Okay, so I was tougher and smarter than your kids .. .. .. or, maybe I wasn’t. Maybe you’re all bringing up your kids to be little darlings and pansies. I really don’t remember what the heck I did in class in kindergarten, but I didn’t piss and moan about it and complain that I was too tired, too sick, too whatever to go. My family would have never put up with that silly crap. I came home, had a snack prepared either by my grandmother or by me, under her watchful eye, and then went out to play with my friends. After dinner I sat down with my mom and read books or watched a little TV. Then bedtime. True, I do not think that I had homework in kindergarten, but my education did not stop at 3:pm when I left school. Everything at home, in one way or another, was educational: books, discussions with my family (my favor word was “WHY”), etc. If I wanted to know how to do something new I was usually told to “go figure it out” (under the watchful eye and eventually helping hand of an adult if needed). I had lots of friends, mostly the same kids in and out of school.

      I grew up strong, self reliant, independent, curious, and ready to take on the world. I knew that life was a series of competitions and that I would not always win or get a trophy just to boost my self esteem. I was lousy at sports but I always stayed in and tried hard, and didn’t cry (as kids do nowadays) when some other kid got the trophy.

      I raised two sons the same way and they are now grown men with their own families and both are doing terrific.

      Expect and demand more from your kids — they’ll get the idea and deliver.

      • I’ve been debating whether I should reply to this comment, or if I should just let it lie. Your comment is the first semi-nasty thing that anyone has posted here on my blog, so I want to be mindful in my reply. First of all, what I write is a Mommy Blog– if you are not familiar with the concept, it is a virtual space where moms write about the trials and tribulations of parenthood, brag on our kids a little, and share support and advice. Sometimes we swap recipes, house keeping tips, or suggestions for how to balance motherhood with working full-time and trying to stay sane. What we DO NOT DO is belittle each other or call our children names. It is nice that you feel so good about yourself and your performance in kindergarten. It is nice that you think you did a great job growing up and raising kids. You included the PhD after your name, so I am assuming that you want me to know that you think you know what you are talking about. Cool. Apparently, what you did not learn “under the watchful eye” of your caretakers is that it is just plain bad manners to call someone else’s kid names or accuse a mom of crappy parenting. We are now raising kids in a very different day and age than when you were in kindergarten in 1951, but I can assure you that my children are strong minded, independent, energetic, and inquisitive as ever. They are also compassionate and sensitive. Their lives are constantly being enriched with music, art, theater, books, and nature. The problem today, about which I was writing in this post, is not about the character of my children, but about the character of the education system which is far different than it was for you in the olden days. For you to attack my children’s character is uncalled for, in my humble opinion. Momasteblog is a space I created with a goal of being supportive and caring about people’s parenting experiences in a non judgmental way. I’ve put myself out here on the internet, and people are of course entitled to their opinion about my thoughts or writing-that’s what makes the world go around and I don’t expect everyone to like or appreciate what I have to say. But when it comes to people’s children follow the rule of thumb that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. We mommy bloggers are real people with real feelings, especially when it comes to our children. Be well and have a nice day. Peace.

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  7. I’m probably late to this party, but I found this blog while searching for other moms who either hate kindergarten or have a child who hates kindergarten. Thanks for writing this.

    I think what your critic, Mr. PhD, is missing is that our kids are so weighed down by homework – mindless dittos (the same one over and over again) that there’s no time to be inquisitive, to read, converse with family, and play with friends – the things small children should be doing. We are lucky to live in a “great” school district in a suburban area. A district people outside desire. My kindergartener has had the same homework over and over all year. Almost the exact same ditto. They miss recess regularly, because there is no time – but I’m not seeing any progress… just busy work. Lots and lots of busy work for me and for her. And, when we get home at 6PM and eat dinner, we’re up late and grumpy from doing homework…and my smaller two children are missing out on critical mom time. Kindergarten sucks, and I fear that Common Core will only make it worse.

    Thanks for your blog. I’m glad to find someone to relate to in the world.

    • Hello there! Thank you so much for joining in the conversation, and even reading all the comments. You make a great point about homework adding to the “over scheduling” of today’s children. Common Core is so NOT developmentally appropriate for kids. A friend of mine added me to a group on Facebook called Bad Ass Teachers, which is a site where teachers and parents vent and discuss the current educational system. It has at least been validating that my concerns are grounded in reality! I wrote another post this past September about the academic treadmill that might interest you as well. I am happy you are here! Hoping to hear more from you. Momaste!!

      • I’ll definitely look for it. I look forward to reading more by you, and I’ll definitely look up this Bad Ass Teacher site! I’m hesitant to post much publicly, because I’m not confident (sadly) that they wont treat my kid differently once they know she’s the kid of “that mom” but the squeaky wheel gets the oil, right? I’m torn! Thanks again for your prompt response 🙂 I’m working on an educated letter to our superintendent about Common Core and the dangers of our children losing their privacy without sounding like I’m sitting here typing it with tin foil on my head.

      • Definitely check out that Bad Ass site because they have a lot of “talking points” and you could probably get more specific advice too… I have really struggled to learn how to advocate for my kid without coming across like too much of a Tiger Mom, or like I have tin foil on my head– LOL– I love that visual!!

  8. I’m back here to comment again 🙂 Because of the crazy common core standards, my girl is in danger of not moving to first grade. They are already working on greater than, less than and equal to (with the symbols, not just looking at the numbers and saying if it’s one of the three) and they are expected to know 100 words by the end of the year. It is so frustrating. ALso, I’m gonna look for that group on FB 🙂

    • Hmmm, that sounds concerning and frustrating. Isn’t it a little early to be worried about first grade if kindergarten just started? Although common core can be really rough, I would give the kindergarten transition time. My son is young for his grade (Aug bday) and it took him until nearly March to settle into the flow emotionally, although he never had any troubles with the academic aspect, hence our starting him on time and not holding him back a year. She might surprise you if you give it a little more time and patience, with the reading and such. They are likely still screening to see where she “fits” academically at this time in the year. If she is really behind, you can advocate for her to get tested for special supports and accomodations in school so she can progress at her speed with extra support. Common Core is a satanic beast, and it is totally NOT appropriate developmentally, but I do have to say that my son has surprised me with his eagerness to learn. We mostly struggle with the homework and behavioral stuff because he is so freaking exhausted at the end of the day. Good luck!!

      • I have asked repeatedly for her to be tested for speech (short history-we adopted her and for the first 2 yrs of her life, before us, she had literally no interaction with anyone outside of her mentally ill birth mother) because she had significant expressive-receptive speech delay previously. She was in speech therapy (we lived in another state) for a year, and was on target. Then we moved to FL, and she seems to be behind again according to the school.

        We recently started family counseling (NOT because of the kindergarten issue) and have decided that I will homeschool her next year (well, I will actually start in the summer to get her caught up with kindergarten stuff, hopefully). The curriculum is accredited and through an online public school, so she will still be getting the academic stuff that she needs, but I will have more freedom in how she learns it. I recently quit my job to stay at home and focus on her, our son, and our family in general; I am hoping that helps for the remainder of this year. We will also be getting her tested independently from the school for speech issues. There are times that she truly does not understand instructions that other children her age do understand. It breaks my heart but I am determined to get her caught up and back on track, and hopefully have her like school at some point.

      • Wow. It always amazes me how far parents have to go to get their children’s needs met in school when there is a special issue, such as speech, sensory, anxiety, etc. Your daughter is lucky you are such a good advocate for her. As a social worker, I would definitely recommend getting an independent neuro-developmental evaluation. You can take that back to the school dept and use it as evidence for additional services in school. Don’t give up! You’re doing great! And it is amazing of you to quit your job to take care of your family… if only our country allowed women to do this as a general practice.

  9. I just cried reading this blog, because minus the “big boy” issue(our school keeps the kinders sequestered from the bigs), it is as though I wrote this post. I am heart-sick as how school has changed my little boy– so much so that the grandmother of my son’s best friend from preschool approached me at pick-up time and asked “Is everything okay with Little Man? He seems so sad and he used to be so happy & upbeat at preschool pick up.” I almost burst into tears there.

    My son has 9, front and back, pages of homework a night. Today I pulled out 15 pages of worksheets he did at school yesterday. Yesterday was a 5 hour minimum day. You do the math. My sweet, curious, bright boy is being worksheeted to death. As Kee said “our kids are so weighed down by homework – mindless dittos (the same one over and over again) that there’s no time to be inquisitive, to read, converse with family, and play with friends – the things small children should be doing” and that is HEARTBREAKING. I don’t even have time to do the “after-schooling” that I would like to do where he learns things that they aren’t teaching at school (art, music, etc.).

    I think Common Core has merit in that at the base of it, they are *trying* to make education incorporate more arts and critical thinking, etc. but the MAJOR drawback is the fact that MOST teachers today grew up being educated in the land of “teaching to the test” era (unlike people such as myself who went to school well before NCLB), so they don’t KNOW what a non-drill and kill classroom looks like. Their Kindergarten and first grade experiences weren’t in a play-based environment (which most child development experts note is the best way for children to learn at this age) , so they don’t even have a basis for implementing the hands-on/critical thinking facet of common core.

    That being said, I think expecting Kinders to know 100 words by the end of the year is ridiculous.

  10. I didn’t learn to read until second grade. Neither did any of my peers. We went to elementary school in the 70s. I graduated from U.C. Berkeley. Most of my friends are college graduates and doing well in their careers. I’m yearning to get my kindergartner out of public school and into a charter Waldorf-based or nature oriented school.

      • First, I am thankful for finding your mama blog. After another exhausting pick up at my 5yr. Kindergarten today I went online, I am no longer feeling alone on my views and thoughts on my daughters Kindergarten experience. I homeschooled my daughter prior to K, went to rec. Center for classes, attended library. I was taken back the 1st wk. Of her starging school in August. It is my own opinion the kids are like soldiers. And constantly on carpet to desk throughout the morning time. My daughter thrives academically, has petfect attendance. However, still adjusting/transitioning from home to class. I help out in class to show support. I disagree with the little time to play and explore creatively. But, I always volunteer and work with teacher. The truth is it has been an awful experience for her. She is told to stop reading her books ahead of class, constantly hushed when she has questions, teacher tells me she finishes her work to fast. And my daughter is always hungry when I pick her up because she has 15 min. To eat lunch. She got 100% on her last state test. On Mon. She goes to invertention. All the student go once a wk. I ask but never get clarity on what it is. I also taught class in Montessori. I respect her teaching method. As for now I will have to support my daughter for the next few months until school is out. After my own personal experience watching my daughter lose interest in her school not school work. I am taking her out of current high standard/high ranking/hi testing school next fall. She will be attendi g a local neighborhood school. It is my hope oneday our children will be able to be treated like kids not soliders. I hope oneday my child will enjoy school not feel bad for being herself at school♡ thank u all moms for writing, ranting, being a voice!

      • It is a more militant approach, I think you are right there. It seems we are trying to bring kids up to the same academic place as other countries such as China, but I’m just not sure we are going about it the right way. I’m glad you found your way here, and left a comment to let me know how things are going for you. It sounds like you are a dedicated mom who is trying to enrich your daughter’s life!

  11. I too like Cluttered Mama am sitting here with tears rolling down my face. I just can’t believe there are so many other moms out there who feel this same way. My bright and inquisitive 5 year old has been for the last week complaining that there is so much work (sheet work/busywork) to do that he never completes it. Homework is causing major issues at home; my husband says don’t make him do it (which his teacher said was ok during our P/T conference) because it always ends in him getting frustrated and storming off to his room. I will not dare let him return to school without his homework complete. So we too are up in the morning while he is still tired finishing it. I already anticipated this happening before school began and seriously knew home-schooling would be best for him (and many other children). Against my better judgement i sent him and now feel so guilty. He’s even asked me -all this weekend can he please not go back to school and just bring his work home to home school. He is not a lazy child by any means. I am so torn as to whether i should follow my gut and pull him out now before he is completely broken by this insane system. I have been a SAHM now for 4 years and have 3 other children (14, 4 and 1). I’m not sure i can meet all of their needs homeschooling. Although i am technically homeschooling my 4 year old. I know no one can make that decision but me, it’s just so hard. By the way i’m so happy i found your blog, keep up the great work!

    • So, one thing about this post is that I wrote it on a difficult day… in general I think a lot of the common core requirements are inappropriate and hard for children developmentally. But I do think schooling with other peers and teachers offers a lot of important lessons for children socially, emotionally as well as academically. Things will get better for your little one, and then they may get difficult again. Kindergarten was super rough for us but first grade has surprised me with how well he has caught on. Sure there are some weeks where it is tough for him, but the important thing is to keep the bigger picture in perspective. Best of luck to you! Hang in there, it really does get better.

  12. This has been the best blog I have come across. I agree and relate to everyone. I too have a 5 year old that has started kindergarten this year and our entire family is dealing with it. I just need to vent with maybe a few questions to other moms. My number one worry is he is extremely exhausted in morning and evening. I have tried the routine thing but its so hard to keep a routine at night when I’m lucky to complete everything from dinner to homework to family time, reading bath ect. Let alone do it the same every night. My husband and I work full time an also have a 2 year old. My son is gone from home 9.5 hours from the time he gets on and off the bus. Holey crap I know it’s a horribly long day for anyone let alone a 5 yer old. I have been continplating going part time to cut out his travel bus time. He Hal the time falls asleep as soon as he gets home and would sleep hours if I let him. His behavior is some times in controllable ( do ya blame him) he is an extremely smart kid and I miss my well behaved little guy.
    Any suggestions on timing or routines or how other are dealing with their exhausted kids. Not sure if this is the right place to be posting this but it’s the only place I found.

    • Kindergarten is a very overwhelming year for everyone, as you can tell I felt the same as you when I wrote this post last year. Keep the faith. It does get better. This year has been a lot better (first grade) for all of us. We’ve seen our son mature a lot but there is still the fatigue and tantrums and sense of being rushed. But it isn’t quite as intense. My best advice would be to give lots of love and hugs and understanding. Pick your battles. For example, if homework starts a brawl, let the teacher know there may be some times when you won’t be doing it if it gets your kid into that much of a fever pitch. And then do it on the weekend or another night. I would let the teacher know your kid is struggling as well just so she can be aware and sensitive. Unless you can afford to quit your job and homeschool or have thousands to enroll in alternative school (eg Montessori ) then there is really no other way than to get through it. And you will!! I can tell you for sure there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you will burst with pride when your little one walks across that graduation stage in June! Love to you and thanks so much for the kind words on my blog. It means the world to me. Xo.

  13. I went to first grade in 1951. We did not have a kindergarten yet in our school. I was 6. We started school at 8:45 and got out at 2:45. I lived in the country and went to school in a small town of around 4,000. We had two recesses. With lunch at 11:30 and a recess to play till 12:30 bell rang. We also had a mat and had naps laying on the floor. Nap time was 15 minutes. This right after 12;30 bell. I loved school. No home work ever until I got to Junior High…the 7th grade to the 9th, and then only if you did not get done in school. High school yes homework then, but again a study hall for an hour so time to do some work in school.

    My grandson is 5 and started kindergarten this year 2013 and was looking so forward to starting school. But he goes for a full day and he hates school. He has since his first day. What he is expected to know when done with kindergarten is more like my first grade. He has homework every night. I don’t blame him for hating it. They are pushing kids to much these days and making them grow up to fast, with no time to play and rest during the day. Also no time for their brains to rest and recuperate.

    • Hello there. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a thoughtful comment. It is so hard to watch a child you love struggle to adjust to a system that is just not child-friendly. Kindergarten was a very tough year for us. (I actually wrote this post over a year ago, and can tell you that things have improved dramatically!) It is a really big adjustment year for children, and kind of a harsh reality test after the joys of either being home with a parent, or having fun in daycare. Academics are stressed now at a much earlier age. I’m so sorry to hear your grandson is struggling. But the good news is, it gets better! I do agree with you that children are pushed too much, and should be learning more from play and exploration at that age– I believe this as both a mom and as a child and family therapist. The best advice I can give you is to be patient and trust in your grandson’s ability to learn and flourish. It is a long learning curve, the kindergarten year. And you will stand so proud at his graduation in June! xoxo.

      • Yes I will be proud and do see he is adjusting to school and home work every night. Thanks again. BTW I like this blog you started. Its a good place for adults to sound off and get some understanding of the common core and the new way of learning.

  14. I want to add when did they start pushing out kids so much in school? When did kindergarten start being a full time school day? It was not for my oldest granddaughter who is in the 8th grade

    • Well, there is this thing called Common Core now, in which they are trying to get American students up to par with students in foreign countries. Basically, they are treating each grade as though they were a grade higher, thus kindergarten is taught at a first grade level, first grade at a second grade level, etc. It is also a standardized way of teaching so that basically all the districts in America are doing it the same. I’m over-simplifying it, here, but that is the gist as I understand it. In my humble opinion, it is not a very child-friendly system. It is not developmentally appropriate for many children, and as both a parent and a social worker, I’ve seen children really struggle with it, become depressed and anxious and frustrated with school. Not all children, but a lot. . .

      • Okay I see and thanks so much. I now understand common core and why more and more parents aren’t liking it. At least that is what I am reading it being. It is true foreign students are ahead of ours, but we are America. I went to technical school taking medical assistant 5 years ago and there were two girls from Russia who were exchange students. They were maybe 16 or 17. They sailed through the work. We had a lot of work and were expected to do what should have been taught in 2 years at a college level. I found this out to late for me… But my point is this girls were way ahead of any in my class.
        We are America and don’t or use to not push our children so. We let them grow up and be kids when young. Its wrong to do and I can see this happening right in front of my eyes. . Thanks again momasteblog for explaining this to me.

      • You are so welcome. I’m glad it was helpful. Give your grandson lots of hugs. . . it helps to ease the tension they feel, and they are only small such a short time. xoxo.

  15. I am a kindergarten teacher, plus a mommy to a first grader, and I love this post! I agree completely. I teach in the public education setting and some days I absolutely hate doing what is required of me. I stay because I try to make it better for my students, but I feel so guilty pushing them in certain areas when I know they are not developmentally ready for it. My son has so much anxiety about school, and has no love for reading, which breaks my heart. I am actually taking him out of school and exploring waldorf, and montessori options.

    • Thank you immensely for your comment and for your support and understanding. I have nothing but respect for teachers, and I know most teachers are really struggling with the whole Common Core requirements, as you yourself express. You are really lucky that you can explore waldorf and montessori. . . they are both amazing philosophies and so supportive of a child’s individuality. Thanks again for stopping by and for commenting. It means so much.

  16. I have taught kinder and/or first grade for many years. I have ALWAYS been against all-day kinder. Students become exhausted from demands placed on them, which they are not developmentally ready to achieve. We as a nation are robbing our precious children of their childhood, and using school as a “babysitting” service. My 5-year old granddaughter attends compulsory all-day kindergarten. She passes out every night and sleeps 2 hours. Shame on all of us. I worry for the future. The education system now emphasizes record-keeping over the needs of our children. Nazi Germany also kept excellent records. Wake up, America! Do the right thing!

    • I enjoyed your post! I found this blog tonight. I have been feeling a militant teaching at my daughters kindergarten since school started! I am a at home mom of 2. This is my 1st exp. With school. However, I do have my 5yr on a schedule. She sleeps at 8p.m. and up at 8am. everyday, even weekends. It works for us. After school I was trying a nap. She would sleep till night if I did’nt wake her. So, on school days no napping. I am looking forward to summer vacation. I can’t wait u till kindergarten is over (:wish u the best!

  17. My kindergartener is also (surprise!) having trouble with motivation but unlike a lot of schools, he only goes half day and has no homework. However, he STILL, resists the concept of having to go to school and learn when he would rather just stay home. The attitude he is developing toward school (I hate school, I don’t want to learn…) is terrifying because I’m afraid his decision to “hate school” will make a lasting impressions and carry on for the rest of his life. Maybe I’m being dramatic. His school is loving and supportive and fun (I volunteer in the classroom) but he still resists anything that he deems “boring” which is any type of writing practice. For me it is very hard to decipher the difference between “just not being ready” for kindergarden from “my kid just needs to suck it up” and part of the kindergarten experience is having to “do” things you don’t want to do. I would totally object to pages and pages of homework and worksheets. There are much better ways of teaching that are engaging and interesting (my son’s teacher is an excellent example). His school has music, art, pe and free play time and despite all of this, my son still does not enjoy the “learning” aspect of school. Even though there is not a lot of pressure from his teacher or me, we are still having all the problems that other moms are mentioning in this blog. I would love to hear about how these kids who are seemingly having trouble in kindergarten are doing in first grade. Anyone have experience with an older child?

    • HI! Sorry it took me so long to reply to your comment… thank you so much for stopping by and reading here at Momaste! So, I wrote this post last year and my son is now in kindergarten. Fo what it’s worth, I think that kindergarten is just a really rough year of adjustment, transition, and growth for both parent and child. And I don’t think our American education system makes it any easier with the unrealistic demands on the child. All kids at that age are meant to do their learning through play and socialization. Some are ready to do academic learning, and some are even excited about it, but not all. First grade has also been an adjustment for us, but we seem to have settled in. My son is reading and writing and loves it, although he still complains that he hates school and gets upset stomach when he has to go. I guess it is good that he is learning, but I continue to wish our system was more organic for younger kids, and that they had more time to learn through play, exploration, and sensory experience as opposed to book lessons. We try to do lots of open ended stuff on the weekends to make up for the demands of the week, and have given our son lots of play time, and opportunities for physical activity to help him release stress. I also do massage and reiki with him to help him with relaxation. Best of luck to you, and feel free to stop by and comment anytime!

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  19. What you wrote really resonated with me. We live in an Asian country and my three and four-year-old started school at a kindergarten in September. My son (the 4-year-old) especially hates it. He hates it and I hate it. They have formal classes and he is forced to sit still for ages on end. He also gets math and literacy homework- pages and pages of the stuff. Mostly I throw it away and refuse to let him do it. He is only 4 and they expect him to read and write. It’s been 7 months and he still gets tearful and tells me every night that he hates school and doesn’t want to go. My daughter (the 3-year-old) is a bit better, but I think that is because there is less pressure. She doesn’t like it either, though. My heart really breaks over it. I want to quit my job and homeschool them, but I just don’t know if we can afford it financially right now. Sigh. I trust that Jack is doing better now than he was when you wrote this.

  20. I found this post on your blog when I googled “feeling guilty about sending my child to kindergarten”. I’m so glad I did. It feels good to know I’m not the only one.
    The only thing is that my son hasn’t even started kindergarten and I feel guilty. He’s a very smart and sensitive boy. He went to preschool a couple hours three times a week and loved it. Now he’s really worried about kindergarten and I am too. I hate the idea that all the schools around here have full day kindergarten. I want so bad to home school him, but I don’t know if I could do it. I have so much more to say but I think all the other moms who commented have said it for me. Thanks for this post.

    • Hi. Thanks for coming to Momaste and for leaving a thoughtful comment. It is amazing to me how much this post resonated with moms all over, and continues to do so, even though I wrote it about a year and a half ago… The good news is kids adjust. We’ve had to make a lot of accomodations, and also alter our expectations of our son to help make our environment a little friendlier. Karate has also been a very helpful outlet for our kiddo. There is no doubt that it is stressful, but I would never feel competent educating my children at home in the formal academic sense. Plus it is nice to just be their mom, and teach them the usual life stuff. Good luck with sending your son to kindergarten. It will be okay!

  21. My daughter started Kindergarten on Monday. When I picked her up from Aftercare, I expected her to come out running, smiling and skipping, like she did when I picked her up from pre-school….but I was in for a shock. First, she was sweating so profusely that her hair was soaked. We live in Florida, so in August, having the kids out for more than 30 minutes can severely dehydrate them. The first thing out of her mouth was “What’s for dinner?” She wouldn’t talk about her day on the short drive home. It was only after dinner that she began to speak about it. She was very nonchalant about the activities, she was neither positive or negative.

    I know this will be an adjustment for her as she came from a small catholic pre-school experience and now she is in a large county elementary school. I suppose it’s natural that she feels overwhelmed, but it applies to all the kids in K. They will go through it together.

    One thing I did was create a family daily schedule. It’s a structured schedule that includes dinner time, reading, homework, bath time, free time…etc…culminating to a 8:30pm bed time. I made it cute with little clip art so that she can read it herself and knows “what comes next” as she’s beginning to ask this all the time. I’m going to try to follow it but know that some days there will be exceptions. Friday night, Saturday the whole day, and most of Sunday is “FREE time” which means anything goes! A nice reward for a good school week. And then of course there are all those days off that I will try to make fun for her.

    I’m a single parent so I must work full time. She will be in school and then in aftercare..it will be a big adjustment for both of us.

    Great article!

    RB

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful words. Schedules are great for helping make a child’s day predictable and consistent. I couldn’t agree more. It is a huge adjustment, but remind yourself you will get there and it will be okay. Kindergarten is a big transitional year. xox.

  22. Oh my god, I have a headache and I am so stressed, my girl starts kindergarten in a few days and I got online to get support and now i’m more stressed, haha.

  23. It sounds like he’d do better in half day k. Why not do that and hire a fun sitter?
    Also sounds like he needs more mommy time and daddy time. That’s my definition of conservative.
    I didn’t send two of my three kids till first grade

  24. Pingback: Dear Moms, It Will All Be Okay | momaste

  25. Thank you so much for sharing this time in Jack’s life. And thanks to those who commented (less Mr. PhD, ha). My head and my heart tell me that 6+ hour school days and Common Core are too much, and not the best way to learn. Kids should be kids and learn through ways more natural to their age. My heart aches to see my 7 year old first grader SO TIRED all the time. He’s like a different person because it’s just too much for the little guy. But like you, I know I would not be my kids’ best teacher so homeschooling is also not a good option. I appreciate you putting that into words, because so many families are succeeding at homeschooling. It can be hard to be honest enough to realize that I wouldn’t be a good academic teacher. You also made an excellent point that the public school system, flawed as it is, still imparts peer and teacher interactions that are important for development. Finally, thank you for updating that Jack’s situation is improving. I’ll keep the faith that my little guy will eventually adjust too.

  26. Thank you for this. I feel the same way. I feel like everyday I am sending my little girl off to have her love of learning crushed (and I’m a teacher but I feel helpless). My heart is breaking.

  27. Thank you for sharing Jack’s and your experience with kindergarten. I am a kindergarten teacher at a private christian school. I moved to kindergarten from first grade last year and it had been 9 years since I taught full day kindergarten. As a first grade teacher, my day was very structured and full. Sadly there was little time for anything other than academics. Transitioning back to kindergarten was a relief. My school is actually a hybrid school – students are in my class three days a week and are homeschooled with parents working from my lesson plans the other two days. Since I only have my students in the classroom for three days, I really feel guilty when my day is not jam packed with academic activities, especially since parents are paying for it.. My day does include center time/free play and that will not change (kids need time to be kids). For the upcoming school year I was contemplating doing away with nap time to gain thirty additional minutes of instruction in order to fit in all the material I’m required to teach. Last year’s schedule worked pretty well, but there is always that feeling that I should do more with my kiddos. I replied to your post because I wanted you to know that it made a difference. It put that thought to rest. The old saying rings true, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Last year was the best I’ve had in my 23 year teaching career. My kids were happy, their parents were happy and so was I. I love my kinder cuties and want them to love school and develop a lifelong love for learning. Thank you again for sharing. Best wishes to you and Jack in the remainder of his school career.

    • You are most welcome, and thank YOU for taking the time to read, reply, resonate,and reflect! I think it is awesome you have the liberty to tweak your curriculum as you see fit… I know this is not a liberty afforded to many public school teachers. I’m really glad the post was helpful to you… Jack had an awesome year this year, just finished second grade and he had an amazing teacher that made a WORLD of difference.. so I think there is that too, and you are doing an awesome job to be so sensitive to the needs of your students and families. xo!

  28. This post somewhat comfort me. Sent my daughter to ride school bus this morning. It’s been 3 weeks but has not make friend yet…
    Maybe coz we are asian, these lil girls in the bus just mean to her. My daughter tried to be friendly. Offer to seat next to her, making or joining conversation… (According to my daughter), but one of the girl said, no you there… pointing with her finger. My daughter was sad n just quite. As a mom, I’m 10 times more sad than her…. Please tell me it gets better….

    • Hi and hugs… It DOES get better. Soo much better. Hang in there. As for kids being unfriendly to your child, I would have a conversation with the teacher and principal right away to nip that in the bud. Most schools take bullying of any kind very seriously these days. Maybe having a playdate with some of the kids and getting to know some of the parents would help too. Or volunteer to read a story to the class or bring in a special snack so that they get to know you a bit better. It is so hard to see our children be set apart, but it is also important for them to learn strong confidence and ways to “come back” when a kid is fresh or mean to them, and to teach them that the other kid’s rudeness is not about them, but about the kid being rude. The school social worker might also be someone to chat up about this stuff… Hang in there. My son starts third grade this year, and it has gotten better every year! Kindergarten is such a hard transition. xoxoxoxo.

  29. I am finding this article a few years after you wrote it but I wanted you to know that it is still helping Moms of kindergarteners. We are 1 month into school and my daughter still cries every morning. I can’t blame her because I want to cry too. I miss her. I am fortunate enough to be a stay at home Mom and she is our first to head to school. I Miss the days where she was just mine but now I have to share her with school, and they get more time. I hate it.

    • Hello. Thank you so much for your comment. I clearly remember how hard that year was, even though it was a while back. Anyway, have faith in yourself and your daughter. It is a very hard transition, but it does get better. It will be amazing for you to eventually watch her form bonds and relationships and get excited about learning and growing. For us, things really started to turn around in second grade. Take heart and hang in there. xoxoxoxo, thanks for reading.

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  31. I had tears in my eyes reading this. I feel the same exact way! Why does it have to be this way? I’m sick of my child being stressed and anxious. I’m sick of being stressed and anxious myself.

  32. Your article made me want to cry because you put into words how I have been feeling since my son started school. Except add to it my sons school does NOT like to be a team they keep secrets from me and refuse to let me in the class room. They will tell me everything is great and then give him and F in classroom ( which is like homeroom ). Turns out after fighting with them since day 2 of school they have finally told me how his days have been going including crying that he wants to go home and crying inconsolably till he is exhausted, and never one word to me. My sons kindergarten class has no art of any kind except coloring with crayons, no science. School was not like this for little ones 10 years ago. Why are they making school so evil and rotten and cruel?

  33. “I hate seeing the world of education trying to pulverize his heart and soul to fit into some stupid box.
    I hate that Jack is graded and judged.”

    I´m from Estonia and I found this article by inserting Google ” I hate kindergarten”. Today I totally felt that way, hate the box. In our system, children don`t have to go to the kindergarten, but most of them do, because parents have to work. They also don´t have to do homework. Our kindergarten are playful, give soft beds and healthy meals, but something is still wrong. All the things you named are still there…..so tired of it.

  34. As I made my way through this passage, I felt as if it were me doing the talking. I have three children. My youngest is in her 3rd month of Kindergarten and hated it. She cries when it’s time to do homework and is cranky when she gets off of the bus. Homework is exhausting for her and I. There are pages of math, science, language arts, and creativity. And this is on a nightly basis. Doing homework with her alone can take 1-2 hours. Meanwhile I have two other childen, ages 12 and 9 who need assistance while also trying to juggle coming home from work, dinner, cleaning, and extracurricular activities. I have asked her why she cries about homework and she stated because “it’s boring.” she also stated that she hates school because it is just as boring. She likes “centers” but hates the structure and box that she is put into. I have been thinking of looking into other schooling options for her. I am tired. I really just don’t know where to go from here. I want her to do well and not hate school so I approach her disdain with ease and care.

    • Same with my son. He is in kindergarten and keeps telling me that it’s boring. He begs me to homeschool him because his older 2nd grade brother was homeschooled for K & 1st grade. Even over the weekend he won’t enjoy family activities because he doesn’t stop asking me pulling him out of school. I am carefully considering this but the reason I haven’t pulled him out is because I was really hoping & set on him loving school like my 2nd grader. From what I heard from other parents it gets better in later grades.

  35. Pingback: I Hate Kindergarten- This Mom’s Rant | jan6177

  36. I know this is really late in response but thank you for your post and everyone for the replies. My daughter started kindergarten a year after your son. It was a similar experience. They had 15 or less minutes of recess, 10 minutes to eat lunch at 10:45 am and over 5 hours of sitting still completing paperwork. Sadly, we are in a low funded rural failing school (I’m not a fan of standardized tests but only one third grader per year is proficient in math). I think the panic over test scores is pushing the school further into rigid academics every year despite the evidence that the plan isn’t working. First grade was worse for us. My younger child was due to start kindergarten this year and the teacher-to-be told me that my inquisitive, fun child was poorly prepared (because he didn’t know 2 letters in the alphabet) and that she expected him to be a problem “because he’s a boy and boys are problems.” My first grader developed stress migraines and had them on a daily basis (and she is slightly above grade level in every subject). My family is joining the ranks of homeschoolers. I’m sad that early elementary school has become such drudgery.

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