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!