I have magical powers. At the very least that must be a rumor going around. Otherwise parents wouldn’t look me in the eye and seriously voice the expectation that after a month with their child I can teach/persuade/force them to do something they, the parent, have been unable to do in the five to six years they have known them. LOL I have to admit to appreciating their confidence in me! However, if they haven’t yet taught their child to behave appropriately, write their name, tie their shoes, recognize the alphabet, count to ten, and blow their own nose, then it will probably take me a few more weeks to do so!
One of the things that older teachers often discuss is the broad range of skills and behaviors we now teach in class that were previously taught at home. The most glaring lack in children today is personal care skills. Many children don’t even ask to have their milk carton opened, shoes tied, pants buttoned, or face wiped. They simply look at me with the expectation that I will immediately perform that task, since someone always has in the past. Some will even drop a spoon or pencil or paper and announce “I dropped….” and expect me to pick it up! Trained helplessness is NOT an attractive quality.
More and more of my students have little or no experience with reading, writing or coloring unless they have been to preschool. A few aren’t familiar with the alphabet. Some can’t count to ten. And yes, the number of children who have NOT been to preschool seems to be rising. I’m not sure if that’s because of long waiting lists or finances or personal choice, but it’s obvious that many who have stayed home have not spent their time doing much more than playing and watching television. Nothing wrong with that if you also understand and accept that the consequence is most likely two years in kindergarten. Very few children entering kindergarten today without preschool experience or parental teaching can “catch up” to their peers. That’s just a fact of life with the new curriculum, expectations, and testing.
Students are also unfamiliar with the concept of following directions because many aren’t asked to do anything in a specific way. There aren’t any procedures to follow or guidelines for a task at home. “Clean up your room” is a general directive that means put their toys somewhere out of the way. I’ve also listened to parents give specific directions, which are ignored, and then the parent steps in and does the task for the child.
I do understand that much of this is the result of busy schedules and overworked parents. But I’m just saying that I can’t be expected to change all of it in a month. Give me another six months and then I’ll show you some magic!