Ooltewah dad makes headlines for online post, "Is your child ready for Kindergarten?"
An Ooltewah Elementary School kindergarten checklist posted recently to Reddit has created an online conversation — and stirred up parental angst — over whether expectations are too high for such youngsters.
UPDATE: A local man made headlines on The Today Show Wednesday morning after he posted a picture of his son's kindergarten school supply list.
Ooltewah parent, Lucas Hatcher said he posted the photo as a joke but the stress and anxiety over the start of school, for some parents, is real.
Hatcher posted the photo with the caption, "I have failed to prepare my son for kindergarten."
Hatcher said he was making a joke about students expected to know more than 30 letters but soon other parents started responding, writing about how the expectations are unrealistic for a five-year-old.
"I immediately thought it was going to be funny with the 30 letters, everyone else was more like, "hey this is a lot for a kindergartener to know," Hatcher said.
Hatcher posted Ooltewah Elementary's student supply list, which asked, is your child ready for kindergarten?
Hatcher said his son, Jackson, can complete all of the tasks on this list but many parents responded writing the list is unreasonable.
"It feels like it's a lot more than it was when I was a kid, it's been a long time since I was in kindergarten but it does seem like it was a lot more than it was way back then," he said.
Hatcher's post pokes fun at the item "can he or she identify 30+ letters"
There's only 26 letters in the alphabet but we now know the school was referring to both upper case and lower case letters.
"At first I laughed because I thought it was quite funny," said Principal Tom Arnold
Arnold said he'll be more clear on the supply list next year but wants the worried parents to know.
"First of all they need to rest assured their child is going to be fine."
Arnold said the list is a guideline of what kindergarteners should know before they enter the classroom and wants all parents to work toward that goal.
"If parents can just help their child with these basic skills before they enter kindergarten it would make such a world of difference."
Hatcher said this is his first child to go to school, and while Jackson is well-prepared, he's still nervous his younger children might not be.
"I'm really worried is he going to be ready?" Hatcher said, "And kind of reviewing that list ahead of time, it's just a lot of pressure on kids, a lot to learn unfortunately."
PREVIOUS STORY: By Eun Kyung Kim, TODAY
(NBC News) - It used to be enough to know your first and last name when you started kindergarten. You got extra credit for being able to sing the alphabet.
But a kindergarten checklist posted recently to Reddit has created an online conversation — and stirred up parental angst — over whether expectations are too high for such youngsters.
"Is your child ready for kindergarten?" the note reads, asking parents if their child can do things like write his or her name, follow two- or three-step instructions, count to 10, identify colors and use scissors correctly.
The questions were just one part of a kindergarten supply list posted by the Tennessee elementary school that Jackson Hatcher will attend starting Monday.
The 5-year-old knows how to do everything on the list except for one: "Identity 30+ letters."
The alphabet only has 26 letters.
That's why the boy's father, Lucas Hatcher, originally posted the note to Reddit, with the cheeky headline: "I have failed my son for kindergarten."
"We thought the '30-plus' thing was funny. That's really what it was," Hatcher told TODAY. "Everyone else seemed to be pointing more toward, 'Hey, this is crazy, all the stuff that's on this list.' I was pretty surprised by the reaction on that."
Calls to Ooltewah Elementary School, which posted the checklist, and its supervising school district were not returned Tuesday.
One Reddit user noted expectations for kindergarten students have grown tremendously over the decades.
"My son's school expected him to be able to read fluently by the end of Kindergarten (sic)," one person wrote. "I'm thinking back on my time in Kindergarten and all I remember doing was having story and snack time, watching other kids eat boogers, and recess."
Another Reddit user agreed: "Yes, used to be that reading was started in grade 1."
Educational psychologist Michele Borba said the checklist Hatcher posted was fairly standard for most schools nationwide.
"If you do a search for any regular district across the U.S., these expectations are identical to what you'll find," she said.
Expectations are so high partly because a growing number of competitive preschools around the country have started teaching academic basics earlier, but often at the expense of social skills, she said.
"The preschools have become so upscale in terms of the academic achievement push that what's tanking is Sandbox 101. 'It's my turn' and 'it's your turn' and learning how to listen," said Borba, author of "UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All About Me World."
Faye de Muyshondt, founder of socialsklz.com, said she doesn't see anything wrong with the kindergarten checklist and compared it to one she'd normally get during a visit to the pediatrician's office.
"Why not? I want to send my child off to school knowing what the expectations are. Even if the expectations are high, I want to know what they are," she said.
"When I go to the doctor's office with my daughter, for example, I definitely want to know what milestones my daughter should or should not be hitting."
The key is to be realistic about expectations — and how they may or may not apply to your child.
"My daughter is the type who exceeds all of those expectations. My son is not, so I just want to know what exactly is expected," she said.
For parents of incoming kindergartners who feel their children may not meet a school's suggested checklist, she recommended swapping out a regular daily routine with something more academic.
Instead of reading with them for 15 minutes at night, go over the alphabet or colors or have them practice writing their name. The key is to make it fun.
"Before school gets really intense, make it pleasurable. Make it fun to do the alphabet and make it fun to spell their name, instead of it being a nagging thing," de Muyshondt said. "Get the academic world kicked off on a positive note."