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I was driving a friend and his daughter home after a playdate with my son and the conversation drifted to kindergarten and the utter panic this dad experienced at the parent orientation meeting he'd gone to a short time back.

Basically, it was explained to him that the expectation was that, by year's end, his daughter would need to write a three page essay in order to graduate. He was saying that, given his daughter's current grammar ability, he's expecting that they'll need to hire her a tutor in order for her to pass the grade.

I don't know what your reaction is to this, but for me it's--
What the $%^$^^&^!!

This brings me to heart of this blog: where is the line between making sure our kids get a good education and pushing them over the edge?

There seems to be two opposing camps of thought in terms of what education should mean for the 5 year-old set:

1) Kids should be as academically challenged as possible because otherwise they're not going to be able to compete later on. They can do more than we think they can and should be pushed to excel.

2) Kids should be treated like kids. They need time to play and explore. Don't stymie their creativity by giving them too much structure or pushing them academically harder than where, historically, kindergarteners and nursery schools have treated them.

My feeling is that there's a balance in all of this and that in the school system that my son will be entering (he missed the Kindergarten cut-off for this year) is a pendulum-swinging reaction to the generation of kids who were all handed trophies as kids so that everyone would feel like they were winners.

While my elder son missed the cut-off, he's currently attending a nursery school that is trying to push his academic limits to better prep him for kindergarten because "time is running out to give him the necessary tools for him to excel for next year in public school." While I see the value in this thought, the notion that 4-5 year old kids should be put to the gun to become more productive, lest they screw up their lives, is deeply troubling for me.

As a concerned father, who is starting to deal with such issues as the above, I'd love to hear what you are thinking in regards to these issues. Thanks for your time.

Dana Glazer is a father of two sons as well as the director of the upcoming documentary, The Evolution of Dad. For more info please visit

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