As I walked into school the other day, a friend of mine grabbed me in a panic and said “Should my four-year-old really be practicing a page of letters every night?! This is the only time I get to spend with her and I’m forcing her to write a whole page of D’s! This stinks!”
No, as an OT, I don’t believe that a four-year-old should be practicing a page of letters for twenty minutes a night. It’s too much for those little hands.
But – an educator who spends two days a week in kindergarten, I have to say, this is where the curriculum is going. Developmentally, preschoolers are still preschoolers, but kindergarten curriculum expectations have increased tremendously. Little kids are expected to be able to write upon entering kindergarten. Preschools are bowing to the pressure and teaching what used to be the kindergarten curriculum.
I felt empathetic towards my friend who just wants to play with her little girl at night, rather than drilling her to finish a worksheet. But here’s what I told her.
“Think about it differently. You have the chance to make sure she learns all her letters correctly before she starts Kindergarten. There will be other children in her class who don’t know their letters, and the teacher won’t be able to really sit with them one on one to make sure they get it. Many teachers teach one letter a day in two forms (capital and uppercase), so the kids don’t really develop the motor memory. It’s difficult for kids to learn it and to write comfortably at this rushed pace. If a child learns their letters correctly it is so much easier for them to write neatly. It becomes automatic.”