Is Common Core making kindergarten too hard for 5 year old children?

Dear Bill and Melinda ~

A reader on Diane Ravitch’s blog posted an interesting observation about Common Core State [sic] Standards.

Funny, but we noticed lately:  There seem to be so many questions and observations about Common Core, now that people are finally being made aware of just what CCSS consists of and how these standards will impact children.   But that will probably be another blog one day.

Let’s just consider 5 year olds and Common Core for a minute…

Diane’s reader made this observation:

“Here in Clark County Nevada we have been treated to a special pep talk by our new superintendent, a 25 year veteran of the district and a former kindergarten teacher. He stated on Jon Ralston’s show that we will have to step up to meet the Common Core standards. He bluntly stated that from his experience kindergarten would be teaching what he said were 2nd and 3rd grade concepts in his time. I am glad for his honesty, but I am sure reality will intrude on his wish that children attain and perform at levels that are developmentally inappropriate. I am not sure he is enough of a bureaucrat to know he made an admission that others should amplify. Our kids aren’t stupid, our schools aren’t failing, the tests are not appropriate.”

Since you had such a heavy hand in funding, promoting, and developing the Common Core State [sic] Standards, we thought we should ask you:

Do you think all kindergartners [5 year old children] should do third grade academic work?

Is Kindergarten too hard

Is Common Core making kindergarten too hard for 5 year old children?

Please let us know what YOU think about this.

We’re really quite curious.


Teachers’ Letters To Bill Gates


About Highlighting Members' Needs

We are running for the following Renton Education Association positions because we believe in the following planks: Becca Ritchie, Candidate for REA President, Nelsen Middle School, Computer Tech Susan DuFresne, Candidate for Primary Executive Board, Maplewood Heights Elementary, Integrated Kindergarten ✅  Demanding a healthy work-load/life balance. ✅  Bargaining competitive professional compensation. ✅  Challenging the status quo test culture with: Less is more! ✅  Emphasizing our professional expertise. ✅  Prioritizing equity and access for all. ✅  Utilizing 2-way 21st century communication tools. ✅  Acting in solidarity with all unions. ✅  Supporting ALL members. ✅   Implementing developmentally appropriate K-3 curriculum/assessment.
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29 Responses to Is Common Core making kindergarten too hard for 5 year old children?

  1. Kris Nielsen says:

    Go to and read the K standards. Go ahead. Then, take some ibuprofen and come back to share your thoughts.

    • livingbehindthegates says:

      Kris, thank you for your great advice. Readers can look at the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts here:

      And for Math here:

      Readers, this is not all. CCSS is still be written for Science,Social Studies, the Arts… and more.

      What do you think?

      Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates

    • Sue says:

      As a Wisconsin Kindergarten teacher who just completed a school year under the Common Core ELAINE and Math Standards, I am sickened by the expectations I was forced to have of my 5year old CHILDREN. My stomach was turning everyday as I cried tears in my head when I needed to deliver 70+ minutes of sit down reading instruction and 60 minutes of workbook math instruction everyday. Free time and time for socializing was out. Even formal scheduled snack time, no science or social studies in the name of a reading level of D for ALL and fluency in math facts to 10. I could go on an on about no time for classroom art, music or FUN! It makes me want to quit. Speaking against only got me threats of no job and trouble. Still trying to do something about it with a fake smile.

  2. I have maintained from the very beginning that the CCSS and the accompanying assessments are not developmentally appropriate. No child development specialist was involved in developing these standards. The standards are untried….are there good things in there? Sure. Will the basic scope and sequence work when fully implemented with real children? Who knows? That’s what’s scary. It is not good practice to make high stakes decisions.. any decisions, really, on a curriculum that has never been taught and is assessed with tests that have never been given.

  3. says:

    So I was wondering at what age a child is allowed to be a child? The CCSS are “college prep”. Really? If a child wants to prep for college, social interactions are as important as academics. It saddens me that as a kindergarten teacher I no longer have time to play with my kids since I am constantly testing.

    • livingbehindthegates says:

      Great question, Teri! Do you mind if we ask Bill and re-blog it to him? Feel free to add to your comment if you wish.

      Teachers’ Letters To Bill Gates

  4. Fonda Adams says:

    These people KNOW nothing about childhood development! Children’s minds go through developmental stages. A kindergartener is not ready for abstract concepts yet . I teach 4th grade and there are students who are still not ready for some of the abstract concepts we expect them to grasp.
    I think this is what is causing some of our reading gaps also (especially with boys). We are trying to teach concepts they are not yet ready for, thus they do not quite get them. They then move forward to the next grade, already behind, and then we continue to push them forward whether they are ready or not! The students I have now are often 1 (and in some cases 2 years younger) then what I hade a few years ago. SURPRISE–these are the students who often enter my class with the most difficulty in reading. I have no problem with high expectations for my students, as long as those expectations are realistic for their age and stage of development!

    • livingbehindthegates says:

      Hi Fonda,

      Thank you for your comment. We would love to re-blog it to the Gates with your permission. Feel free to add to your comment and ask him any question you may have.

      Let us know.

      Teachers’ Letters To Bill Gates

  5. cathy hunt says:

    I’m thankful that I am retired!!

  6. Stephanie says:

    I keep hearing about how wonderful it is that Common Core is going to expect so much more out of our children at a younger age. This sounds great if you don’t stop to think about what is developmentally feasible for children. Turn them off to learning at a young age or make them feel stupid…

  7. M. Reyling says:

    And the point is that there is NO REASON FOR THIS. Children in Finland do not START academics (including “learning to read” –although certainly families spend lots of time reading to / with their children as soon after they are born as they show interest…) until they are 7 (SEVEN–that’s when our kids are in 2nd grade…); and they become some of the top students in the world. Studies have shown that children who are pushed at a very young age often lose all of the edge they had by upper elementary.

    Personally, when I went to (half-day) kindergarten, we sang songs, learned to get along, and took naps. And I took calculus in high school and scored well enough on the AP exam (before there were graphing calculators…) to get a year of college credit at a top tier university.

    One of the important developments in young children is the knowledge about self–beliefs about what they enjoy, are capable of, good at, and slowly what they believe they stink at doing… When you overwhelm a child by trying to drag him/her through material s/he is not ready for or present the material too quickly, you end up having to do lots of damage control down the road(something that is not always successful–why we have a high percentage of adults who are “not good at” math).

    • livingbehindthegates says:

      Thank you, Marion~
      Do you mind if we re-blog your comment to Gates? Do you have any other questions for him and Melinda? Let us know.

      Teachers’ Letters To Bill Gates

  8. Jennifer McDuffee says:

    I have been teaching kindergarten for 15 years and yes, I do feel the new common core standards are too difficult for many students. There will always be those kids who excel, but there will be far more who struggle. It is very difficult to tell a parent AND a child, “I’m sorry, but you are a failure at 5 years old.” It breaks my heart. Not to mention the fact that in California kindergarten isn’t even required and many students enter school as first graders. Those students will be behind from the moment they enter school.

    • livingbehindthegates says:

      Thank you, Jennifer. Do you mind if we re-publish your comments above as one of the letters to Gates? What else would you like to say or ask him? Feel free to add and post. We will re-blog with your permission.

      Teachers’ Letters To Bill Gates

  9. larin says:

    If the kindergartners have not been prepared for the work, then of course it’s going to be too difficult. Which should raise the question of what kind of control, I mean, preparation work are those in control going to impose, I mean, expect next? One of the things I have noticed in my years of teaching is that children’s brains develop at different rates, so that some children are readier for more advanced and difficult work at earlier ages than others students. However, simply introducing harder lessons at earlier ages does not an academic program make (a favorite strategy in some of the private schools where I have taught). Giving students harder work before they are prepared for it just mean that more students will be “left behind.” Wait, isn’t that the problem they’re trying to solve? Sigh.

    • livingbehindthegates says:

      Great question Louis!

      Thank you for replying to our blog!

      Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates

  10. larin says:

    If the kindergartners have not been prepared for the work, then of course it’s going to be too difficult. Which should raise the question of what kind of control, I mean, preparation work are those in control going to impose, I mean, expect next? One of the things I have noticed in my years of teaching is that children’s brains develop at different rates, so that some children are readier for more advanced and difficult work at earlier ages than others students. However, simply introducing harder lessons at earlier ages does not an academic program make (a favorite strategy in some of the private schools where I have taught). Giving students harder work before they are prepared for it just mean that more students will be “left behind.” Wait, isn’t that the problem they’re trying to solve? Sigh.

  11. Pingback: Sue, A Wisconsin Kindergarten Teacher on Common Core: “I am sickened by the expectations I was forced to have of my 5 year old CHILDREN.” | Teachers' Letters to Bill Gates

  12. Laura says:

    I’m a Wisconsin Kindergarten teacher and have been teaching with the CCSS for three years now. I have found that the amount of time that I have for enrichment activities is nearly zero. No art, music, physical activities, experiments, and play. It’s a lot of stress for everyone involved and kindergarten should be fun. Our day was a lot of work, work, work and by the end of the day everyone is tired. I don’t hear “I love school” and “School is fun!” anymore. I think Kindergarten should be more social interactions and hands-on learning through experimentation. My Kindergarten students are already being assessed to death with MAPS 3 times per year and PALS twice a year. In between those assessments we are working at the skills to improve those scores. The kids are not being instilled with a love of learning. It’s just skill and drill. I’m tired of it and so are the kids.

  13. Kae says:

    I have taught PreK for 17 years. 13 of the 17 yrs I taught 3 & 4 yr olds together. The past 4 years I taught only 4s. We have full day prek. There is an opening in Kindergarten for the upcoming year. I have been tempted to ask about moving up to kindergarten because I will have 3 & 4 yr olds together again due to budget cuts. After reading what is expected of Kindergarten students I am not sure I want to move.

  14. Concerned mom says:

    It’s sad to see how The Common Core has replaced The Common Sense…
    This is packed with very demanding… Busy work… To indoctrinate children to be like sheet and follow the masses.. Ridiculous!

  15. HUY says:

    look at the failure of No child left behind…and most school districts are still in probation and they want to replace it with something harder? THe main problem in US is discipline …no support from the parents so it is going to fail.

    I am sure the teacher union don’t care what what result since they getting more funding…and I assume a promise never to close any school in probation.

  16. Pingback: Our Top 10 from 2013, but Bill Gates is Still Not Making Nice with Teachers | Teachers' Letters to Bill Gates

  17. Elizabeth says:

    I’m an American married to an Italian. Our 5-year-old son did two years of preschool (playschool, basically) in Italy and now he’s in the US with dad doing a year in kindergarten. He liked it at first but is now far behind the program and acting out in class because he just can’t handle it. Most of the other kids did a year or two of preschool there so they were already somewhat keyed into the system. Our son simply isn’t ready cognitively nor developmentally for some of the skills and concepts they are trying to foist on him. We had no idea. We were given the impression they do the alphabet and a bit of basic phonics. In Italy they go to first grade and start learning the alphabet; there’s no presumption of former knowledge; this is the case all over Europe. I teach in a high school in Italy and I assure you that EVERY Italian kid I’ve met who’s done a year abroad in a US high school says that it was a piece of cake and they were far ahead. This despite spending the first two years of elementary school learning what my kindergartener son is supposed to have learned in the first half of the year!!

  18. I am so happy to have found this site. I have a Kindergartner who is struggling terribly because of the Common Core Standards.

    He was a preemie so it took some time for him to “catch up” and be ready for school. Luckily, we moved from California to North Carolina just in time for him to get one extra year before he started Kindergarten. (His birthday missed the cut off in NC, but not in CA.)

    My oldest child is in middle school now, so we had experienced Kindergarten before and had set our expectations to the same standards. Boy were we surprised when we found out that he was struggling.

    The curriculum is absolutely mind-boggling. The requirements to promote from Kindergarten to First Grade are more in line with what was required for children to promote from First Grade to Second Grade and some cases from Second Grade to Third Grade. It is ridiculous.

    Based on some comments I’ve read above, it appears as though these “standards” are supposed to be for college prep. College prep in Kindergarten?! That is absurd. How many college grads say “thanks to my Kindergarten teacher, I made it all the way!”? None. Honestly, I believe that data would end up showing what we already know. Some people are college-bound and some people aren’t…and Kindergarten doesn’t have anything to do with it. Like most adults in my generation, I learned to read in the first and second grades. I learned social skills and age-appropriate life skills in Kindergarten…which was a class I took a few hours a week through a local church – not through the public school system.

    I went on to have a successful high school “career,” complete with AP and Honors courses. In fact, I scored above a 4.0 in Advanced Physics and ended getting a surprise home visit from a government agency that was interested in recruiting me into a nuclear physics program. I never asked how they got my information, nor did I accept the offer, but I did that – all without learning to read or do basic algebra in Kindergarten. I did end up accepting a scholarship to start my college career that stretched on for 10 years. I followed that up with a rewarding post-collegiate career that progressed into me starting my own corporation. Did I mention that I didn’t do any college-prep in Kindergarten? How did I ever achieve so much?!

    My Middle School child took a half day Kindergarten class and although she learned to read that year, most of her classmates did not. It was not a requirement. They have all thrived in their developmentally-appropriate courses. She has her sights set on MIT and it will be a crushing blow when she finds out that she won’t be able to attend such an institution because she wasn’t sequencing stories, identifying settings and main ideas, or doing basic algebra in Kindergarten and First Grades. I suppose she will have to settle for a sub-par school like Caltech. (Yes, I’m joking here – mostly. The bit about Caltech was not actually a joke. Ok, ok. Kidding.)

    Truthfully, I’m angry and heartbroken over what is happening here. My son has overcome obstacle after obstacle to finally “catch up” developmentally and cognitively. He is smart as a whip and has a memory that is almost terrifying, but he is “failing” Kindergarten because of these changes and his confidence is taking all of the blows. I am relieved to find that I’m not alone out here in this. What is it going to take to get these things changed? Was it worth it? Because from where I’m standing, it appears that these standards have been set not FOR our children but at the RISK of our children.

    I’m seriously already trying to teach my 3 year old how to read, write, identify sight words, and do basic math so she can be ready to enter Kindergarten when she is 5. (And THAT my friends is NO joke.)

  19. Concerned mother... says:

    My son started kindergarten and is also just not ready for these Common Core Standards. We have already had two meetings with our awesome teacher about this but he is FAR behind now. She even had to warn us he will have a few “failing” grades on his first report card. He had a wonderful year in preschool ahead of this kindergarten here in CA but it was just not enough. Many students are having to repeat K or 1st grade because of these ridiculous standards. We have homework every night where he is just sometimes frustrated. He is a bright boy but he is just not ready for this. When will the government ever learn to get it right?????

  20. The grass is always greener on the other side… I grew up in Taiwan and the common complain over there was we had too much homework and test and a society of people very good at taking tests but lack creativity, social skills and much less everything else. Now I have kids in IL attending Kindergarten, and we already have a lot of homework and I can tell you it is far more advanced even for kids in Asia. It seems to me here we are so worried about our test scores compared to the world, not realizing that we are raising a generation of kids who are only good at taking standard tests.

  21. lisa mccombs says:

    I just want to say that I think it is REDICULOUS that my 5 year old grandaughter, who had only been in kindergarten for a couple of months, had to “write an ESSAY”!!!!! How is a little 5 year old who just started school, and hasnt even learned to really write yet, supposed to write an essay?!?!? Kids are being “taught” things in kindergarten these days, that has generally been taught in say, 3rd grade. I, for one, am flabbergasted by it all!!

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