Later entrance date would help children prepare for...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 09, 2001

Later entrance date would help children prepare for school

Logic would dictate a simple but often overlooked response to the troubling findings of Maryland's survey of 5-year-olds' school readiness: Change the entrance date for public kindergartens ("Survey finds young pupils unprepared," Feb. 27).

Maryland is one of six states to admit children to kindergarten who don't turn 5 until Dec. 31 of the year they enter kindergarten. This means as many as one-third of kindergarten students in a Maryland public school are 4 when they begin kindergarten.

Many parents and teachers of young children have seen the negative effects of this antiquated entry-date policy.

If the entrance date was changed to the beginning of the school year instead of the calendar year, enriched preschool programs and rigorous kindergarten programs would produce dramatic results.

For years, private and parochial schools have known the advantage time gives to young children and have generally required children to be at least 5 when they enter kindergarten.

Savvy public school parents, with the time and income to have their child wait, have similarly applied for and received exemptions allowing children with late summer and fall birthdays to enter school the year after they turn 5.

Wouldn't it be wise for the state to change the entrance date for kindergarten so most children, not a select few, benefit from the right program at the right time?

Mary Pat Kahle

Timonium

Supportive parents are what young children need

Was I the only one who laughed out loud when I read the article "Survey finds young pupils unprepared" (Feb. 27) about children "unprepared for the rigors of kindergarten"? As a parent of a kindergartner, it had me worried for a second: Are her term papers to begin next month?

Kindergarten serves several important purposes, and a lot is accomplished, but I would hardly describe it as rigorous.

My daughter is learning the alphabet, how to work with others and be polite, to express her ideas and beginning to read. But what she learns at home always will be the keystone for her development.

Toddlers do not need classroom instruction. To conquer the "rigors of kindergarten" or, more accurately, have the tools to conquer their young lives, they simply need caring parents at their sides to help them and show them the way.

Michael Simon

Columbia

Look out, Maryland: The state has identified another part of parenting it will try to take over. Now children ages 0-to-5 will be the subject of studies, programs and other forms of "help."

But the more parents abdicate their responsibilities to the state, the worse things get. How about the old-fashioned answer that one parent makes a full-time job of raising the children while the other works to support the family?

Raising children is a full-time job. "Quality time" is a myth; "full time" is the answer.

Don't worry about money: The savings from not paying for child care, private school and government programs will more than offset the lost income.

And children would rather have your presence than that new Nintendo, anyway.

Gary C. Harkness

Baltimore

Kindergarten isn't the time to impose educational rigor

How saddened I was to read in The Sun that a survey by Maryland school officials has decreed that only "two in five are fully prepared to tackle the rigors of kindergarten" ("Survey finds young people unprepared," Feb. 27). The rigors?

In the 1960s, when I was trained as a kindergarten teacher, we were told that kindergarten is not preparation for first grade, but to help each child have a good year at age 5.

Children mature physically, intellectually and emotionally at different rates, and it was a joy to me to be encouraged to provide the means of growth in each area.

Where are we now headed if striving to be No. 1 is more important than appreciating the many and varied gifts of those around us, whether adults or children?

Dorothy L. Harrison

Ellicott City

On domestic partners bill, D'Adamo did the right thing

I live in the 1st Council District and don't always agree with Councilman Nick D'Adamo. But on the domestic partners bill, I salute him ("Gay-partners bill was right thing to do, says D'Adamo," Feb. 27).

Mr. and Mrs. D'Adamo should be very proud of their son. He did the right thing.

Katy Greene Davis

Baltimore

State's psychiatric services need fuller funding now

Thank you for bringing the issue of the Mental Hygiene Administration's (MHA)serious funding problem to the public's attention ("Mental health services in peril," Feb. 14).

Many of the MHA's patients are at the federal poverty level and have chronic, severe psychiatric illness. The agency's inadequate budget has, for the past two years, necessitated borrowing from the next year's budget to serve patients in need.

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