Frustration: a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.

Frustration: to balk or defeat in an endeavor; to induce feelings of discouragement, to make ineffectual: bring to nothing. To impede, obstruct or to make invalid or of no effect

My right arm has been in a cast since the morning of July 7th when I tripped on my front step and clumsily crashed onto the pavement. Being right-handed, this restriction on almost every little detail of daily life has been, to put it mildly, frustrating and often humiliating.

Lucky for me, this shall pass. In a few weeks the cast will come off and I’ll begin physical therapy. I’m hoping that my physical therapist will be endowed with a wealth of patience. I know from past experience that I am no “jock” and that my body does not bounce back quickly. I hope the physical therapist will work with me on my own playing ground. I hope that I don’t experience feelings of humiliation and failure by not meeting a generically expected timeline on my road to recovery.

My experience makes me think of young children and the Common Core Standards. Should each kindergarten child be expected to “Compose and decompose numbers from 11 to 19 into ten ones and some further ones, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each composition or decomposition by a drawing or equation (such as 18 = 10 + 8); understand that these numbers are composed of ten ones and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine ones.” by the end of the school year?

What of the children who have different styles and rates of learning? Might we be creating an environment that leads to feelings of dissatisfaction, depression and anxiety for many children when we set a time-line, complete with a numerical rating of 1,2,3 and 4, for meeting standards that can be developmentally inappropriate expectations for all children to meet at the same time?

Don’t we want children (and adults going through physical therapy!) to feel supported and believed in? Isn’t it important that we let children, and their parents, know that we have confidence that they will “Read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding” and “Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (consonant-vowel-consonant, or CVC) words” but not necessarily by a given date that has been selected by a group of people they have never met and who know nothing about each child’s particular likes, dislikes, strengths and challenges?

I know that, with time, practice, the support and encouragement of friends and family and the guidance of a patient, trained physical therapist, my hand will get strong again. It might take six months, a year or perhaps longer. But the diagnoses and expectation is that there will eventually be recovery.

Don’t we need to have similar expectations for children? We can and should have the high standards for children presented in the Common Core Standards without turning education away from the exciting challenge that it can be and into the frustrating race that it has become!

10 thoughts on “Frustration

  1. Karen

    Agree and thanks for relating it to a real life situation. I know it’s balance between the two (standards and the “exciting challenge” of learning) but it’s the hard part too. Not sure of the formula yet, is there one?………………and to that I say I am so looking forward to working with you in the fall! ps hope you are feeling better and go slow!

    1. Renee Post author

      Hi Karen
      We certainly do have a challenge, working in this test-driven age, but we can try our best to create the best environment for the children and teachers. We’ll work together to attempt this in the fall!

  2. Anna Lee

    I’m all for teaching in a classroom where there are many opportunities for Inquiry, Exploration, and Play! Children learn at different rates, just like adults do, and thrive under encouragement and instructional scaffolding. (I’m sure your PT would not make you do a particular task until you were ready for it.) Should I be worried about the CCSS? Probably. Will I actually read the CCSS? Yes. Can it change the way I teach? I hope not because teaching/learning is fun! Will it affect how I interact and nurture my students? No!

    Our summer is just about over and we’ll be opening our doors to greet students this week! No matter the mandates set before us, my goals will remain the same – to provide a safe and nurturing environment where all children feel valued as individuals, are motivated to learn collectively and individually,where they seek opportunities to learn and make connections beyond the classroom walls, and are inspired to make a difference in the world!

    Here’s to another year of teaching!

    1. Renee Post author

      Hello Anna

      Good for you (and your students!) I hope that you share with us some of your classroom experiences over the course of the school year. I would love to read about them.
      Have a marvelous start to your new year.

      Best wishes


  3. Marie Forst

    Ugh! I understand completely. I gracefully tripped on a step the Friday before I was to set up my classroom. I broke a bone in my right (driving) foot! It sure is hard to play in the wood chips with a boot on!

  4. Kelly

    Hi Renee!
    I am SO HAPPY I found your website…I LOVE it! I have been a kindergarten teacher for many years. I am challenged with teaching a half day session within a full day session – a portion of my class that leaves at lunch time and the rest of the children stay for the entire day. “Specials” (P.E., music, art, etc) are also incorporated into the morning schedule! I am VERY interested in the Reggio philosophy and would like to move my classroom from “traditional” to an integrated, hands-on, child -centered approach. I know this will be a challenge because it will “look different” to others, but I believe it is the best way to teach!!! I looking for resources, advice, “center” ideas, etc that might help with my challenging change:) Where do I begin??? What are your thoughts on basal reading series??? I just want to do what is best for the children! I want the learning to be fun and exciting!
    I appreciate any thoughts:) Thank you!!!!

    1. Renee Post author

      Hi Kelly

      It’s so nice to hook up with you.
      I taught a half-day kindergarten years ago. It’s a challenge. One thing that I would say is don’t try to cram things into your schedule. That isn’t fun or healthy for the children or you.

      A book that you might like is Working in the Reggio Way by Julianne P. Wurm. It’s geared towards pre-k but you could use it for the foundation that you build upon.

      I am not a fan of basal reading programs. I don’t like teaching with a script. I do think that the shared reading of big books is really a wonderful approach for kindergarten. You might want to read the Brenda Parkes book, Read It Again. I also liked using the matching little books as a follow up reading.

      I would love to get specific questions about choice time from you. It would give me more blog-writing ideas!

      Very best wishes

      1. Kelly

        Thank you for your encouraging words! I have read Working in the Reggio Way and I also, Read It Again (one of my favorites) by Brenda Parks! I am also a big fan of Matt Glover and have had the opportunity to hear him speak twice on book making with children!
        I have so many questions ! Where do I begin??? Is there a planning template that would be helpful when planning a project? Should all of my choice time activities reflect my project or is it ok to have just one “center” that is related to the project and the rest of the “centers” are not related? How do I know I have enough choice time activities? How do you feel about working with small groups of children during choice time (i.e. a “reading group”)?
        I am considering using a familiar science topic as a potential project…it is something I am familiar with and will give me a bit of a framework to get my feet wet in doing a project with my group. How do I make sure I am incorporating everything I need to in regards to common core?
        I do appreciate any thoughts, suggestions you would like to share! Thank you so much:)

        1. Renee Post author

          Hi Kelly

          I love all of your questions! I’ll give you a few quick resonses for now. First, in terms of how many choces to have…have enough choices so that nobody is left actually not having a choice if he/she is last to pick a center. I usually had between six and eight centers, depending on what was open.

          I would never take a reading group during choice time! That would give a message that this is not really an important time of the day. I would also feel awful if I was a child being taken away from this special time of the day.

          In terms of centers relating to projects…Usually some will relate and some will not. When you’re doing a project it will become obvious which should connect. For example, in a kindergarten class that was doing a firehouse study the children in dramatic play were turning the center into a firehouse, making signs, putting up a “pole” and generally playing firefighters. At the art center children were making models of firetrucks at one table and other children were making equipment to bring to the dramatic play cener. The teacher had added some toy firetrucks to the block center and hung photos of the class trip to the firehouse to provoke the children’s interest in incorpoating the project in their constructions. So, that week these centers related to the inquiry study. But there still was the sand table, a math center, etc.

          There are two books that will be a big help in planning projects. One is Young Investigators and the other, which I particularly like, is The Power of Projects.

          Let me know if this was helpful. More to come later!


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