But Can She Recite Sponge Bob Verbatim?

The other day I found myself engaged in that soccer practice chit chat that fills the sidelines. Quite often I feel like being somewhat antisocial, even though I am definitely a talker. I actually enjoy watching Miss C practice and she will occasionally call out to me if she’s made a goal and it’s helpful if I’m actually paying attention to what’s going on, not that I can pay very close attention when I have Miss A with me, who tends to suck every ounce of my being toward her with her very presence. She becomes a mini Tasmanian Devil when exposed to fresh air.

It’s all small talk, really, and nothing too Earth shattering.

“How was your weekend?”

“Are we having practice Spring Break week?”

“When are team pictures again?”

One of the moms asked when Miss C was turning 6 and commented about her being one of the youngest girls on the team.

We started discussing late birthdays and children starting kindergarten.

She of the neighboring county shared that she and her husband were told that their daughter would only need to know how to sound out letters when she started kindergarten, not how to read. “Well when she started school, something like 80 percent of her class were reading chapter books!”

Blah blah blah flash cards.

Blah blah blah tutoring.

Blah blah blah an hour of practice every day.

I started to zone out as I tend to do when it comes to catching the parental clue bus. I was secretly relieved that Miss A decided to run through the park toward the baseball field and a practice in session because it gave me an excuse to literally run away, without being rude. Nothing changes the subject faster than a kid high tailing it toward kids swinging baseball bats.

But really, chapter books for beginning kindergarteners?

Miss C does well on her report cards and her teacher, who I see on Friday mornings that I volunteer, has told us she is right on target. She attends the “best” elementary school in our county as far as testing and scores and other state standards. She is just now really truly starting to read simple books, like Dr. Seuss. It is so exciting to watch Miss C sound out words and really feel comfortable with her ability to read.

I know one of her friends was already reading on a first grade level late last fall (I heard this fact stated from both the mother and the child.) These sideline parenting conversations will just continue. I don’t like measuring myself or my kids up to other parents and their kids. So why do I even care? Obviously I do or I wouldn’t be writing about it.

Tell me that pushing chapter books for children just starting kindergarten is the overachieving parents’ holy grail, lest I crawl back beneath my slacker mommy rock and I’ll admit to you that I checked out some Level I reading books at the library two weeks ago to work on with Miss C and we have yet to open them.


  1. Danielle says:

    I teach Kindergarten and many of my students don’t even know their names when they come to school. Some of my kids are still struggling with letters and letters sounds in March. Although having them come to school reading chapter books would be a dream- I think that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard! They are still so little. Let them be kids for a while- if they can read great if not they will soon enough! Sheesh! These parents are off of their rockers.

    Danielle’s last blog post..My Bazzle Baby!

  2. Deb - Mom of 3 Girls says:

    When Abby started kindergarten last year, she knew her letters but even after 2 years of preschool was still iffy on the sounds and other than a few simple words and her name, she couldn’t read at all. Even by the start of first grade, she wasn’t reading – and it wasn’t expected that she would be. She started reading simple first reader books last fall and over Christmas she ‘got it’ and her reading has exploded since them – she’s now reading ahead of grade level and devouring chapter books. In comparison though, Hannah isn’t even in kindergarten yet (she’s in Young 5’s or pre-kindergarten) but is already reading the simpler first reader books like crazy herself. And she went through Abby’s list of first grade sight words at a pretty good clip (she got about 75% of them). I think it has a lot to do with watching (and listening to) her older sister read, and being more motivated to do so herself.

    I think it really depends on the child – she’ll get it when she’s ready. I don’t agree with pushing them so hard – there’s little enough time to be a kid as it is…

    Last fall I spent Abby’s soccer practices and games yelling out to remind her to pay attention and not pick at the grass, sit down on the field or watch the game next to her. And trying to keep Becca from running out onto the field and joining the team. What the other parents think of me (or my kids) is something I don’t think I want to know… 🙂

    Deb – Mom of 3 Girls’s last blog post..Aloha Friday #25

  3. Traci says:

    My Miss C is in first grade and just now started really “getting” the chapter books. I call bullsh$t on the kindergarten thing. I was a part of one of these same types of discussions once, it might have even been at a soccer practice, and some competi-Mommy tried to tell us her first grader was reading the Harry Potter books. Yeah, right.

  4. Anne says:

    give me a break. Lily will be starting kindergarten in the fall and the preschool she goes to is eraly focusing on learning the letter and the sounds they make. Every day she says things like “I know how to spell ‘girl’ mommy” or other words of similar magnitude. Sometimes she spells the word correctly, sometimes not but it just seems like a waste of energy to get all paranoid about what other kids are doing. Unless you are concerned about a learning disability I say fack’em and feed’um fishheads. When other parents brag about their 4 year old reading the encyclopedia or coding html just nod and give a polite “how nice” and find something else to do. It is such an energy suck chatting with ‘uberparents’ and not worth the anxiety.

    Anne’s last blog post..In a nutshell

  5. Bridgett says:

    It is wrong to expect kindergartners to read. How sad to introduce school with such rigor. That was the reason why my kids didn’t go to the local Catholic school–they took pried that everyone was reading by the end of K. At what price, I thought. So they go to a montessori where, in first grade, Sophia knows how to do long division and her multiplication tables but reading comes more slowly. There are no tears and no competition.

    Math is a more natural process…every kid wants the jelly beans divided fairly. Reading is a complex skill and, as a former first grade teacher, progress is the benchmark. Is she doing better than she was in August? Is there progress?

    My mother didn’t know how to read “chapter books” until the end of second grade. She has two masters’ degrees. One in English Literature. I read at age 3. I’m a secretary with a messy house….

    Bridgett’s last blog post..L is for Light (double post from Alphabridge)

  6. Bluegrass Mama says:

    Our son was reading words when he started kindergarten (having taught himself somehow, and proudly reading “Exit” written on a parking lot surface at age 3 1/2. Our daughter, not so much. And guess what–they both learned to read just fine. From what I’ve heard, the rest of the pack catches up with those early prodigies within a couple of years of starting school. If anything, it probably makes it harder for the teachers, having to deal with such a range of skills. In other words, I’m with you, Jamie!

    Bluegrass Mama’s last blog post..Easter By the Numbers

  7. krissy says:

    My daughter was one who read early however, she doesn’t do as well in math. I think each kid has their weaknesses and their strengths.

    I also pride myself on the fact that my daughter is sociable and funny and quite frankly, I would rather have her obtain those qualities in life then learning fractions.

    krissy’s last blog post..The trouble with sex!

  8. Kara in Kansas says:

    Oh, you are preaching to the choir here. Too much too soon, let them be kids for a little longer! As long as they are reasonably within normal parameters. Those little brains have sO much to absorb.

    I’m amazed at how teachers get SO much done in what seems like so little time each day.

    Have you had homework yet? I tell you, my 1st graders can have up to an hour a night. It is amazing. We have a spelling test each Fri that has 12! words and 4 sentences. Good grief!

    I remember playing on weeknights after school, don’t you?


  9. rachel says:

    Excuse me. Chapter Books in Kindergarten? Maybe if ‘Jane, Dick and Spot’ are now in chapter books… that’s insane. I think that’s exaggerating.
    I remember kindergarten and learning phonics and letters and writing our names. When I was subbing in kinder and first, we were teaching the firsts how to read and the kinder how to write their names and recognize their letters and phonic sounds. Ummm…. nope. That’s crazy.
    Their is damage to be done to kids by pushing them too far, too fast.

    rachel’s last blog post..I Ku, You Ku.. We’re all Ku Ku

  10. mayberry says:

    My daughter is about the same age as Miss C. and it sounds like they are at about the same place when it comes to reading; and from what I can tell she’s about in the middle when it comes to her classmates’ levels. If the soccer-practice kid really is reading chapter books, I hope it’s because SHE wants to–not her parents.

    mayberry’s last blog post..A total tease

  11. Amy says:

    I just had Ethan’s conference (he is in pre-k) and they said he is right on target for kindegarten and he is not reading yet. He knows his name, his letter sounds, his alphabet and his numbers.

    My mother-in-law teaches kindergarten and she has told me that she has had kids in there that don’t even know how to hold a crayon? That they don’t even know the first letter in their name?

    Based on those facts, my kid is ADVANCED 🙂 I do the same thing though, I zone out when it comes to comparing kids. I just do what I can for my son and I enjoy his blossoming, whenever it comes 🙂

  12. mamatulip says:

    Chapter books?

    Like, I can read Julia a chapter book, but I don’t think she could read a chapter book on her own. I mean, she’s four. She just started reading. The Cat in the Hat is about where it’s at around here. 😉

    mamatulip’s last blog post..Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens?

  13. Jennifer says:

    My kindergarter is on the same track as Miss C. She didn’t start doing basic reading itll this year. Her clas learns basic words and when she sees words she wants to know what they say or if she wants to spell them out we sound them out. She is not reading a novel anytime soon.

    Those are the types of moms that drive me nuts. I can’t stand when moms brag (we all do it, but some take it way too far) and push their kids. They are kids after all.

    Geez our girls are so much alike. I refer to my little one as Bam Bam, yes she’s a girl, but rougher then most boys we know…lol!

    Jennifer’s last blog post..My Favorite Things

  14. PreSchool Mama says:

    I can tell you from experience that’s not true. It seems like she’s already set her expectations really high for her child which is never a good sign. Everybody learns at their own pace, and this competitive streak that some Moms have just makes it really hard on their kids. Parenting isn’t a contest.

    PreSchool Mama’s last blog post..Silliness Rules!: Weekend Tip

  15. Michie says:

    I’m going to recommend a book for you : “Confessions of a slacker Mom” by Muffy Mead-Ferro. I just read it, and enjoyed it. She’s also written, “Confessions of a Slacker Wife.” I’m almost done with that one. Your post made me think of her books. I think you’d enjoy them. You might be a slacker mom, but I think that’s great. I’m one too. 🙂

    Michie’s last blog post..The Thursday List

  16. Holly Schwendiman says:

    No crawling allowed. Parents today make me insane. When do kids get to be kids? And besides that, no matter when a child learns to read, it all evens out in about 3rd grade so big whoop! Think about it, when you applied for a job did your employer care when you passed of your times tables or did they just want to know you knew how to use a calculator? In my world, my biggest and toughest job is keeping the schools (and over-achieving parents) from interfering with my kid’s education! 🙂


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