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Wow, have times changed!

I read an article this morning that outlined what incoming first graders needed to know or be able to do back in 1979.

Me in first grade, circa 1975.

Here it is, courtesy of Chicago Now:

1. Will your child be six years, six months or older when he begins first grade and starts receiving reading instruction?

2. Does your child have two to five permanent or second teeth?

3. Can you child tell, in such a way that his speech is understood by a school crossing guard or policeman, where he lives?

4. Can he draw and color and stay within the lines of the design being colored?

5. Can he stand on one foot with eyes closed for five to ten seconds?

6. Can he ride a small two-wheeled bicycle without helper wheels?

7. Can he tell left hand from right?

8. Can he travel alone in the neighborhood (four to eight blocks) to store, school, playground, or to a friend’s home?

9. Can he be away from you all day without being upset?

10. Can he repeat an eight- to ten-word sentence, if you say it once, as “The boy ran all the way home from the store”?

11. Can he count eight to ten pennies correctly?

12. Does your child try to write or copy letters or numbers?

Based on that checklist, my daughter probably wouldn’t be ready. First off, she’s only 5. She’ll turn 6 in November (just as I did in 1975 bytheway, so we’d be in the same boat). She hasn’t lost any teeth. She can do all the academics, but hasn’t learned to ride a bike yet. I also can’t imagine letting my tiny little girl (or my 3rd grader for that matter) out on the streets to walk to the store or all the way to school. (I don’t think my brothers and I did that at that age, but I could be wrong.)

Just to compare, here’s a first grade readiness checklist from 2007, from Yahoo.

Maddie, first day of first grade, circa 2011.

First Grade Readiness Checklist

1. Does your child know the entire alphabet, along with all the accompanying sounds in capital and lowercase?
2. Does your child read two and three letter words easily?
3. Does your child count from 1 to 100 and back down from 100 to 1?
4. Does your child understand, create, and identify simple patterns?
5. Does your child write his/her first and last name?
6. Does your child write simple sentences, such as “The cat is fat”?
7. Does your child write all 26 letters in capital and lowercase? (Note: They don’t have to be perfectly neat, just legible and not upside down or backwards)
8. Does your child recognize and identify all of the basic colors
9. Does your child skip count by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s up to at least 100? (2,4,6,8…and 5,10,15,20…)
10. Does your child write all of the numbers between 1 and 100?
11. Does your child know basic word families? (at, bat, cat, fat go together & an, ban, can, Dan, fan go together)
12. Does your child recognize and identify basic shapes?
13. Does your child recognize and identify basic coins (dollar coin, 50 cent piece, quarter, dime, and nickel) and their value?
14. Does your child know the difference between consonants and vowels?

15. Does your child understand comparisons/opposites? (greater than/less than, hot/cold, shorter/taller…)
16. Does your child know that sentences start with a capital letter?
17. Does your child know that sentences end with a period?
18. Does your child know that questions end with a question mark?
19. Does your child tell time on the hour and half hour?
20. Does your child understand and recognize rhyming words?
21. Does your child recognize and understand one-half?
22. Does your child speak in complete sentences?
23. Does your child mark vowels in a word or sentence if asked?
24. Does your child complete assignments based on oral direction? (draw a red line over the cat, circle the blue monkey…)
25. Does your child read months and days on a calendar?
26. Does your child make it until 4 pm without a nap?

Wow, right? School has changed a lot since the 70s. I’ve been told (and I agree) that. This was some people’s argument for me to keep Maddie back a year and not send her to kindergarten last year (none of these folks were teachers, by the way). Turns out she was just fine, and based on these lists, she’s more ready for first grade NOW than she would have been in 1979.
Of course that makes me wonder if I need to let my kids roam more freely than I do. I don’t think I’m ready to do that just yet. Maybe if we lived in a small town or a rural town or someplace where there wasn’t a lot of traffic… Then again, we don’t, so as long as we’re here, I think I’ll keep more of an eye on all the kids for now.

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