Kindergarten class project gone bad.
This was the last week of school and I was visiting one of my students in his kindergarten classroom. I was doing what we in the school therapy world call “push in”. It’s when you join a class and work on the student’s areas of concerns within the natural classroom environment.
I really love being in the classroom. That is where the magic happens and I try to do it as much as I can. Sometimes this can be done smoothly and sometimes not so much.
Today I hit the jackpot! They were working on a summer water safety project. Lots of coloring, cutting, pasting and getting messy.
What were they working on?
- fine motor
- visual motor
- visual perceptual
- sensory skills
All were being developed right in the classroom just as they should be.
My OT heart was thrilled.
When you “push in” you get the opportunity to work with many of the kids and see how the other kids are doing. Usually, I see a variety of levels. Some kids finish super fast and are on the right track. Some kids are asking for help and have a question or two, And unfortunately, there are a few kids that are just not getting it.
This day was a bit different.
I noticed many of the students were having difficulties with this project. The teacher was even doing quite a bit of the cutting for some students. Most children were having to go back and re-color. It wasn’t just one or two that needed help but a lot.
Usually having a classroom that uses flexible seating helps keep the kids engaged and able to complete most activities. On this day that was not the case. What this was was a room full of 5-6-year-olds that had really weak motor skills.
It gets worse.
Before I had walked into the Kindergarten class I was in the therapy room which also is a testing room. On this day they were testing incoming Pre K students.
Yes, testing and PreK.
I was curious as to what this testing consisted of. So I stuck around to find out. This little four-year-old was a genius. He was reading and writing like a 1st -2nd grader. I couldn’t believe it.
After he was done I was able to speak with the teacher giving the testing. She did say he was an exception. Most of them did not read fluently or write very well. Some of them did not know sight words. Others knew their letters and numbers. Usually, they know a few simple sight words. And they could write their name. Ok, that was more like it.
I checked out what was in this Pre-K test. Letters, numbers, sight words, reading and writing full sentences basically lots of academics.
When I asked about the rest of the testing she said- that was it.
Can you guess what I was looking for? Yep, motor skills!
- Can they cut?
- Can they follow instructions?
- Can they color?
- Can they recognize letters and numbers?
- Can they copy shapes, letters, and numbers?
- Make shapes?
Nope. None of that was on this Pre K test.
I went from testing Pre K kids on their academics before they enter kindergarten to the room next door where it was the last week of kindergarten with kids that had difficulties cutting, coloring and pasting.
I felt like I was in the twilight zone.
We can all discuss and hypothesize what is going on in these two scenarios. It’s not that complicated to figure out what is wrong here.
I have spoken to many teachers and parents and they and they are just as concerned as I am. Pre K is feeling like they need to get them ready for kinder (which is really like a first-grade class). Kindergarten teacher is feeling like the kids coming in from Pre K are missing out on the fine motor skills needed in the classroom. It goes on and on all the way thru college.
So, How can we fix it? What can we do? The good news is there is so much we can do!
- Stay true to development.
- Let the kids be experts in age-appropriate motor skills.
- Build the foundation and the kids will be able to get to the next level.
- Get the right information on fine motor, gross motor, visual motor, and visual perceptual skills.
I know that when the right information is given on development the better it is for our children.
It’s FREE. It will really help you give the right experiences for your child.