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Relax, Your Child Already Knows What They Should for Kindergarten

Photograph by Twenty20

Lately, there's been a lot of fuss about what a 5-year-old should know, prior to entering kindergarten. It doesn't help that there is always that one mom who is like, "Well, you know, little Quinn was reading at 3!" to make you even more concerned about how their kid is doing. Sure, the majority of kindergarteners don’t know how to read, but it's hard not to feel anxious wondering if your child is much further behind than you thought.

So, when we recently went for kindergarten testing, I was all nerves. Look, I don’t believe a baseline test can tell me how much my child really knows. (Seriously, the kid can name dinosaurs you’ve never heard of, as well as formulate a plan for his day.) But it’s still unnerving to have to participate in it.

It has been more than 10 years since I’ve had a child in kindergarten. While a lot hasn’t changed, a lot has. Common Core, anyone? I am terrified of trying to teach my now kindergartener how to do this newfangled math in the next few years. And with every new school year, there is a new article, blog post or study waxing on about what kids are missing from their education these days or how we are failing them.

It's enough to send a mama into a tailspin.

Why do we put ourselves through this? I hear the conversations these kids have. They are smart. They can figure out how to work Netflix and know where all the snacks are.

I don’t remember having this type of underlying panic before when my daughter entered kindergarten and school became real. Of course, she was a totally different kid, having attended both daycare and preschool and been homeschooled before starting her foray into public education. My mother-in-law was studying early education at the time and used her as a guinea pig of sorts to test out the theories and methods she was learning. It was an awesome experience. My daughter ended up being one of the few in her class who knew her sight words and was doing serious "pre-reading," much to the chagrin of other parents.

So, when my son sat down, there was a brief moment of panic. Would he answer properly or be silly? Have we done enough at home? Should we be doing more? Does he even know what a sight word is? I was nervous. He was not. Being that it was his first experience "testing," save for the annual eye exams, he had no reason to be nervous. As usual, it was all me.

But as I overheard what the teacher was asking him and his responses, I calmed down. The kid knows his stuff. Apparently, all those mornings watching PBS Kids paid off.

A few of the other moms were discussing the testing and how they were concerned about what their kid may or may not know. It got me to thinking. Why do we put ourselves through this? I hear the conversations these kids have. They are smart. They can figure out how to work Netflix and know where all the snacks are. It doesn’t matter what some test says because it's not a true measure of their intelligence. So what, if they have trouble discerning a "b" from a "d" and write "s" backward?

It's not a big deal. So, here's a reminder for you all: They’re doing OK. And, parents, so are you.

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