I had a glorious morning in the preschool Sunday school class at my church, and at Praise Kids, (when the kindergarten and first graders leave during the sermon and get to do an activity elsewhere). I love these hours on Sunday.
Yet the children at my church always make me feel a little sad. They are so inquisitive and have such high verbal abilities. When I asked one what she was learning in kindergarten she told me, "Well, we're doing buddy reading and learning the ch and sh chunks, but I already knew that, so really, I'm not learning much". Just helping these kids finish their art activities shows me what a huge gap lies between them and the children at my school. It's so unfair.
The kids at my church and the kids at my school have a lot in common. They are in the same school district. Some of the children at my church speak two languages (obviously not as many as the children at my school). But language isn't the reason for the gap. Nor is race. Both sets of children have parents that love them and want the best for them. The only difference is in the resources the parents have to give to their children.
NCLB wants to close the achievement gap, and I would love for that to happen. Yet by the time the children already walk in the door of kindergarten the gap already exists. One kindergarten teacher teachers reading and phonics skills, while others teach the ABCs. Early intervention programs could make a huge difference. There is so much for children to learn about life in the first 4 years of life. I don't expect them to learn to read before kindergarten, but I would like them to have opportunities to build with blocks, learn through play and interact with peers.