Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Dear Santa, Please don't bring me one of these...

There's an interesting article in the New York Times about a new toy on the market for pre-schoolers. It is basically a glorified timer, complete with bells and whistles (literally). Its purpose is to prepare your small child for standardized testing. Basically you use it to put time limits on things your child does, and as a result they acquire a better sense of time.

Here's the thing: I am a time-planner freak. Even in high school I would make detailed notes in my daily planner. 7-7:45 math homework. 7:45-8:00 break. 8:00-9:00 English, etc. People that don't have a sense of time drive me nuts. Really, sometimes I just think they are rude. They think their time is more valuable than mine, so I sit at the restaurant and wait while they run some last minute errand. Anyway, I digress into my frustration with non-time-freaks. My point is that I think I have a good sense of timing and pacing. I was never caught off guard during the SAT. My older sister, who was reared by the same parents in a similar environment, has NO sense of time. ( My mother actually lied to her about what time she had to be at the church on her wedding day. ) So, I'm not sure what causes some people to have that innate sense of time and others not to. Maybe if you time your child while he plays with blocks and watches Sesame Street he really will learn time management. What's the trade-off though? I'm afraid it might be that he never learns to have fun.

I am more and more worried about stress on young children. I can remember that my niece was very excited about kindergarten. She did very well adjusting socially and excelled in whatever they were learning. By halfway through the year, though, she would say things like "Oh I can't wait until Friday. I don't have to get up so early on Saturday." Why should any 5- year-old be saying things like that? She has to be waiting for the bus at 6:30 so she can spend a full day at school going to P.E. and music. I fully support teaching kids the basics of reading, but they do not need P.E. Just send them out to the playground or give them time to play on the swingset at home. I'm really afraid that forcing students to exercise at such a young age, or to sing, takes all of the fun out of it. They never learn to enjoy it.

Well, this is turning into a different blog on my problems with early education and Bush's plan to use standardized tests to measure Head Start programs. I'll save the rest for later. For now, I do not plan to buy the Time Tracker for any of the young ones in my family. Maybe for my sister, though.