One of the things I quickly learned as a school administrator is that kids enter Kindergarten at a wide range of abilities and with differing degrees of background knowledge. This doesn’t mean that those that don’t know are dumb, and equally, it doesn’t mean that those that do know are gifted, although those parents like to think their kids are. What it does mean is that some kids enter Kindergarten accelerated. Giftedness (true giftedness) is often times fairly obvious and when it’s not as obvious, then it is identified through a variety of testing measures in third grade. It is commonly agreed upon by educators that by third-grade students “level out” and sort of “fall into their natural ability levels.” Typically, that’s also the grade level when schools identify and label kids as GATE or GT (Gifted and Talented Education). I believe kids are over-identified due to pressure from parents and GATE standards/cutoffs that are too low.
If a kid attends preschool for a year or two before starting Kindergarten, it is very likely that that child will know a lot more than a child who does not, particularly if the child that does not attend preschool comes from a lower SES (socio-economic status). The gap between those that attend and don’t attend is pretty clear especially when accounting for SES. Some kids enter Kindergarten knowing how to read, while other kids can’t tell the difference between the letter “a” and “d”. Some kids can identify each of the coins, how much they are worth, and how to count coins, while others may hardly know what a penny is. Some know where China is, while others think it’s a city in Southern California, called Irvine.
We try to be fairly deliberate about teaching Stinker and Stinker Jr. and exposing them to all sorts of things, even different religious beliefs. Stinker has been asking a lot questions about why some people don’t go to church. The other day, he asked me where people go if they aren’t in heaven. Man. That’s a hard one to discuss with an adult let alone a 5-year-old. Husband, feel free to take that one.
If there’s one nugget of advice I’d give to parents from an educator’s perspective, I’d say expose your kids to a variety of things. It’s so beneficial to broaden your child’s experiences as that helps develop more background knowledge. This is one of the reasons I think it’s great to travel as much as possible with the kids. They get a true sense of the global society we now live in.
Anyhow, Stinker has been learning how to identify and count coins. So he broke into one of his piggy banks to count them. He stacked the coins into piles equal to $1. Then he asked if he could go buy something, to which I responded, “no, put them back in your piggy bank”.
Gifted? No. At least, too early to really tell. Advanced? Sure. He’s been in preschool for 2 years. But in this competitive day and age, even “advanced” is all relative.