This Viral Photo Will Make You Wish Your Kid Went to Kindergarten in the 1950s

kindergarten expectations 1950s
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If you could take yourself and your family back in time, the 1950s likely wouldn't be your first choice destination. (Let's be real: It wasn't exactly the most enlightened time in our country's history.) But apparently, one highlight of the mid-20th century was the fact that kindergarten curriculum was much more straightforward and realistic. A photo of kindergartner expectations in 1954 is going viral, and it may make you even more frustrated by the boatloads of to-dos and to-knows kids tend to be tasked with as soon as they enter elementary school these days. 

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The photo shows that a 1950s kindergarten teacher expected her students to master color recognition, be able to read and write their first name, remember their address, list the days of the week, and count out loud. (Apparently, they also had to know their dad's first name, but not their mom's ... so that's freakin' sexist and annoying, but unsurprising, given the era.)

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kindergarten checklist 1950s
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Recently, the American Educational Research Association released a report titled, "Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?" That in and of itself tells you just how much our expectations have changed since the '50s.

The study says most teachers today believe children should know the alphabet and how to use a pencil before they enter kindergarten. Back in this 1954 class, they weren't even teaching kids the alphabet yet! The study also states that 80 percent of teachers today expect kids to leave kindergarten knowing how to read. That may be a requirement that makes sense and challenges our LOs, but it also might be so unrealistic that it actually backfires and makes everyone want to pull their hair out.

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There's also the fact that since 1998, time spent on math and reading in kindergarten classrooms has increased dramatically. So, that means a lot less attention is spent on, say, the arts, music, and other creative subjects that benefit 5-year-olds' brains.

Of course, times change and we have to evolve, but this viral photo is perhaps an indicator that the direction kindergarten expectations have gone in may not be an improvement for our kids. While we don't have time machines, we do have our voices! Perhaps this is proof that figuring out what's in our kids' best interests is worth an ongoing, open-minded conversation between parents and educators.

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