During a discussion I had yesterday about schooling for young children, someone actually used the phrase 3K with regards to preschool for three year olds. I’m not going to say I’m surprised or anything, in fact, I’m quite certain I’ve heard the term used before. However, I couldn’t help but find myself thinking about the concept of 3K after hearing those simple syllables stated.
I remember about a year ago having to finally make a decision about whether or not my daughter was ready to enter real school this year now that she was 4 and was able to go to 4K classes. The decision wasn’t all that hard, as my daughter thrives on the structure that a school room provides and is constantly trying to learn more. However, there was a bit of hesitation because at the time of discussion, we were planning on taking a vacation during the school year, as we normally do. Doing so at this point would mean taking her out of class for a week.
I had no hesitation, as I laughed at even having to discuss the idea. I mean, it’s preschool, not real school. It’s a mini-version of school to get kids prepared for real school…which, of course, kindergarten itself is really, in many ways, a pre-school…well, okay, no it’s not, because now kindergarten is now a full day experience, as opposed to the half day situation that was going on when I was a kid.
So then I began to realize what was going on…kids were just starting school earlier. And I’m totally cool with that. Especially with all of the experiences I’ve had with my own kids. I mean…kids are smart. Damn smart. Yet, now that life has become too busy for most people to actually spend most days with their kids, they, unfortunately, spend a large amount of they time locked into a daycare somewhere in which their lives are spent rolling around on the floor more than they are having actual experiences where they learn about the world.
This too, of course, is changing, but, in my mind, not fast enough. And it won’t happen fast enough for me because the daycares that are actually providing such experiences are the ones that cost a ton and have all the rich parents fighting for space. These kids are getting prepared earlier for their years to come, and the parents who have the ability to do so, will do whatever they can to get their kids in there.
So, the fact that many school districts are offering 4K programs, and a quick search on the internet shows a growing 3K offering, is rather heartening. Kids will get into a educational atmosphere at an earlier age. The fact that these are public programs means that more kids in the lower classes will get these same early benefits, meaning that, well, hopefully, more kids will be coming out of the whole thing a heckuva lot smarter and willing to learn.
But this is where the problems really can begin to grow. You see, school is preparation. The preschools, 3K, 4K, and I’m going to add Kindergarten just because I can, are traditionally thought of as preparation for real school, getting those early school structures engrained into a kid’s personal routine so that it won’t come as quite as much of a surprise when they actually get to elementary school. Elementary school and Middle School (I combine them because they really seem to be quite similar in my mind) are really considered preparation for high school, getting those basic concepts down in the three R’s (and whatever else is being taught nowadays) so that you’ll be prepared for whatever you might have to build off of in high school. High school, most definitely, is preparation for college. High School is where you really start learning paper writing and developing full ideas/sentences and whatever else it takes to be a much more autonomous learning machine. High School really does give most people enough to prepare them to live life, as those thigns are necessary when moving on to college, but then also puts down that ground work for being ready for the things you’ll be expected to do in college. College, of course, is the final preparation (or so they’d like you to believe). In college you prepare yourself for what you’ll be doing for the rest of your life, assuming you’re not going to be like everyone else in the world and change careers multiple times over the course of your lifetime.
Preparations…but, none of these really prepare you for life itself. Once you actually get out there and try to understand how to survive on your own, without the structure and guidance that all of these years of schooling has given you, it can be quite difficult to know how to cope. Sure, you’ve got the knowledge of how all of these things should fit together, but not the practical experience.
Interestingly enough…these are the things that you really learn at those early stages when you’re most adept at watching how humans do what they do. Sure, you may not have an actual grasp of how to manage finances at the age of 3, but you do learn how to interact with people politely, learning to ensure you’re getting your basic needs, and adhering to the all-important daily routine that really does make all the difference in the world for humans of all ages. You spend all of your life preparing for a job, but very little of it is actually preparing to be a human…except during these early years.
Daily I see my kids learning about a wide variety of social concepts that you really can’t teach without just having them experience it. Daily my kids come in with completely off the wall questions that really boil down to how does life work, learning about life and death and how to cope with the loss of a loved one because a teacher of theirs is on leave for mourning, learning about different cultures because they have a friend whose mother is on exchange from China, learning about dealing with rejection because a friend doesn’t want to play with them today…these are all things that we all deal with throughout our lives, but here, when we’re young, is where we actually learn how to react to them.
Early learning can have quite an impact on how a kid relates to the world as they get older. I’m curious to see how long it’ll be before we start talking about 2K (for the record…a google search shows that this is also something that folks already talk about…)
Today’s a bit more rambly of a post than usual…sorry. Brain is mighty tired from a sleepless night…injured my back while teaching my kids that their dad is the best at hide and seek.
Have fun out there!