Ethan's Story

The dream of college starts in Kindergarten for both students and parents and it can easily be derailed by a sense of failure.

Photo of Cindy Charles
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It takes great courage to share what it feels like to be a student or parent of a child in the education gap! Frustration, anger, sadness, confusion, disappointment and exhaustion were Ethan's parents experience during their first child's Kindergarten year. Ethan struggled to pay attention, to keep up with his peers, to write, to read, etc... His parents and his teachers watched as the gap in his performance and classroom expectations and standards grew. All were aware of the problem, but not sure exactly what to do because he wasn't significantly behind.  The video attached is Ethan's story with interview clips from his mother about their experience and a glimpse of the less conventional strategies and tools used to help Ethan begin reading and writing successfully. The best part of Ethan's story is that when we went back in time and re-built Ethan's foundation we not only found academic success, but we found his self-confidence, courage, and his dream of playing sports, not just watching them! #Homerun

 Sadly, the gap continues to exist in Kindergarten and it is growing as we raise our academic expectations, yet see an increasing number of students who are beginning their education journey with readiness skills below their chronological age. The reasons for the gap are many, but the available solutions are few. Students must have a strong sensory-motor foundation and and the skills to sustain focused attention to experience intrinsic success at an early age and to recognize their own potential.  Fewer and fewer students today have the grit and courage to persevere to pursue college due to many small and some large perceived "failures" along the way. Let's re imagine Kindergarten to assess and teach the whole child:  the physical child (their eyes, their ears and their motor skills), the social-emotional child, and the cognitive-learner child. We need better tools to measure the student's readiness skills in all of these domains and teacher education on skills and strategies to address them.  We need less teacher pressure to address Kindergarten standards that are often above developmental readiness for 5 and 6 year olds.  Finland is the perfect model of success by slowing down and focusing on the whole child:

I am part of an innovation team @RichlandTwo that is looking at closing the gap in Kindergarten, so that first grade and eventually college doesn't seem so far out of reach.  We'd love your input and ideas! 

[Optional] Synthesize a little! In one sentence, describe what you learned from your empathy exercises or analogous research. (Ex: Good advisors make a difference.)

College readiness begins early. Kindergartners at my school started with a chronological age of 5.4 years old, however 51% of students assessed had a cognitive readiness age of 4.9 or less! #EarlyGAP


Join the conversation:

Photo of Margaret Powers

Thanks for sharing Ethan's story Cynthia Charles ! Have you seen the other elementary focused posts: How young is too young? What Can We Learn From Preschool?  A Two Year Old's Mindset It looks like we have some great insights from working with young children (and helping them transition to new programs/grades/schools) that might be powerful idea-starters for this challenge. It would be great to collaborate in the next phase! What needs can we identify from all of these posts about that might help us to design a relevant program, process, or tool to support students in accessing college? 

Photo of Cindy Charles

Hi Margaret!  I have looked at the other elementary posts and love them! Thank you for your contribution regarding transitions! It would be amazing to have a mash up of our 4 contributions and to collaborate together to re-design the early elementary process and experience to lead to increased feelings of joy and success in school, which would foster the feeling of hope for both students and parents that the dream of college is within reach. 

Photo of Angelo Truglio

Hi Cynthia Charles  Loved reading Ethan's story, you've done some amazing work! I posted Kid's Master Class for the Ideate phase and would love to collaborate.  Added you to the team, hoping you'll be able to jump in on a google doc I started.  ??

Photo of Cindy Charles

Angelo,  Thank you for your encouraging support and kind words!  I am super excited about being a part of your ideate team! The timing is perfect because today I am being shadowed by a former student who struggled in Kindergarten and is now a successful middle school student interested in OT and education.  I will interview him do a trial Master Class to get his insight on what he is proud of and what obstacles he feels he overcame and how.

Photo of Edwin Lagos

Agree on this! Would love to mash them up and work on something together!

Photo of Margaret Powers

Cynthia Charles Awesome! I just connected with Angelo Truglio this morning to see if you all have a shared Google Doc where we can all work together. I'm so excited to collaborate on these ideas and the focus on the early ages. 

Photo of Cindy Charles

I am super excited as well!  You guys are all amazing!