Up until a week ago I thought that the states ideas of “kindergarten readiness” were just political lip service, but last week my opinion changed. I was in the car listening to an interview on NPR (sadly I do not remember the woman’s name) about a new program called Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills, or WaKIDS. This year is the pilot season for this program. The interview was also on the up and coming mandate the child care workers, and preschool teacher have a Bachelor’s degree. This mandate will go into effect in 2013 in Washington State.
The mission statement for WaKIDS is “The Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) is a kindergarten process that: * Welcomes families into the Washington K-12 system as partners in their child’s education. * Gives kindergarten teachers information about the development of children in their classroom to help them teach every child—data about social/emotional, cognitive, language/literacy and physical development. * Align practices of early learning professionals and kindergarten teachers to support smooth transitions for children.
* Offers a statewide snapshot of where children in Washington are in their development at the start of kindergarten, to help inform state-level decisions about policy and investments This program is designed to provide a smooth transition from pre-school to kindergarten and maintain positive development in each child. WaKIDS focuses on four main areas in child development they are physical, social/emotional, cognitive and language. The program aims to maintain a collaberation between child care provides, preschool, early education and policy makers in an effort to provide the best arena for children to develop.
These collaborations are in person meetings when a child is transitioning from one “grade” to another. For example, preschool teachers will meet with kindergarten teacher and discuss each child progress or “standing” and needs. This aids the next teacher in keeping a positive flow to a child’s education, and it allows for the child to be more personally invested in their own success if they know that they teachers is also invested on a personal level.
In the NPR interview the woman who was speaking; she owns a daycare facility, said that she only hires people who have at least a Bachelor’s degree. This is also going to be state mandated by 2013 that every kindergarten teacher have at least a BA, and that there is a 1 to 2 or 1 to 3 ratio of BA holding workers in day cares. The interviewee talked about how she would prefer to hire only those who have college degrees, because they are “professionally” trained in child development area. I think this is an admirable desire, but it does narrow the employee field because not everyone who is committed to making children’s live better can afford to go to college.
This provides material for a great debate, but for me, what it really does is take away from the development of children. Children thrive because they can use their ability to assimilate their surroundings, and the experiences there in. If only people who have college degrees are working with kids imagine how that lessens a child’s experience of life’s diversity. In conclusion, I fully support the desires by the Superintendent’s office to enrich the education standards of this state and heighten the educational level of our children; I am very leery about all the politics that accompany a program such as WaKIDS.
I do believe that it is a step in the right direction, and if we as people who work toward the betterment of children will take the risk; we ought to look even further toward education. For example: the Friends school, or Montessori school, or even parochial school. Look at what works. Look into why they provide better education than public schools. And with the guide and more programs like WaKIDS I believe that we will achieve the goal of educating well and enriching our children.