blog image

The Kindergarten Conundrum: Development, Play, And Early Childhood Learning With Nicole Colosimo

April 28, 202448 min read

Is kindergarten still playtime? Ever wonder if today's kindergarten curriculum is too much, too soon? This episode dives deep into the changing landscape of early childhood education with Nicole Colosimo, a dedicated educator with over 26 years of experience shaping young minds. A single mom of three incredible boys, Nicole offers a unique perspective on balancing nurturing parenting with a passion for education. With our very own Kohila Sivas, they discuss the evolution of kindergarten, the ever-important role of early childhood education, and how today's preschoolers compare to generations past. Plus, they tackle the hot-button topic of technology in the classroom. Don't miss this insightful episode for parents, educators, and anyone who cares about the future of our youngest learners!


Watch the episode here


Listen to the podcast here


The Kindergarten Conundrum: Development, Play, And Early Childhood Learning With Nicole Colosimo

Early Childhood Education Is The Foundation To Success

Hello and welcome. I have the pleasure of meeting with Nicole Colosimo. She is a certified holistic neuro growth learning success coach, and she is an extraordinary single mother with three incredible boys. She is a dedicated teacher with over 26 years in shaping young minds across pre-K to grade four. Her life is a testament to resilience and passion, balancing the roles of nurturing parent to a committed educator. Nicole, welcome to the show. It’s nice to have you on our show.

Thank you for having me.

Nurturing Parent And Committed Educator

I want to start with why you want to become a teacher.

Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a teacher and I'm in a different generation. I'm older, but I grew up playing school and I would spend all day in my basement in a classroom with my little sisters. I was a teacher and I loved it. I felt growing up, I always wanted to help people and help kids. That was the energy and I do have big energy to do that.

I've always wanted to be a teacher. I did summer camps growing up, helping out being the camp counselor. I did all those, did daycare, did all those things that teachers usually do before they work into their careers. I went through it. As a teacher, I spent 26 years there, and I loved my job. I loved it. It was very disappointing that I had to change a little bit, but now I found a way to still help and be a teacher in my own way.

Aligned Learning Revolution | Nicole Colosimo | Kindergarten

What I find about you is your energy level, even after having three boys. They're grown up now and you still have that energy for the younger kids. Where do you get it? You feed off of their energy, I see. That's the secret.

I don't know where I got it. I do feed off their energy and I feel with kids, especially the younger ones, the preschoolers, the kindergartners, and the early childhood, you have to have that energy because if you don't, you bore them. Especially in today's world, those kids get bored pretty easily. You have to be big. You have to be entertaining. You have to gain their attention.

I feel the bigger my personality can be in front of them, the more their eyes are on me. If I just sat back in a classroom and talked very monotone and not excited about it, it would be boring. It is boring for me. I didn't like doing that. Probably the biggest thing is to make connections with kids. To do that, you have to be big, know that you are there for them, make that connection, and spend that time in eye contact, all those things.

I do that when I teach and it's the big ones, being over the top when you find out something that they do and you grow their interest. If it's more you find out they like football, you will say, “You like football? What's your favorite team? What do you like to do?” It's taking it away. Some kids have very negative energy towards adults. They see a lot of the face because a lot of the kids that you work with their behavior problems or they have issues and all they see is a space of this mean face. My approach is to come in with a big smile and a big personality and greet, “Good morning.”

You made me smile. If you smiled, I smiled.

Now, I still saw everyone smile and I popped in there because you got to be on top of what's going on in the education world. I do and the first thing I do is smile at the kids. I think sometimes they don't see that smile on teachers' faces and that energy. If you smile at somebody, they smile back. I'm more of giving them big energy and positive energy. You're going to get that back.

It's the universal language. Smile. That's why it was so hard for me during COVID days because we had to wear the mask and I couldn't see people smile and I got depressed.

That was a very hard time. I taught of course virtual so they could see my face. When I went back to the classroom and I taught during that time, it was coverings and especially for early childhood and kindergarten, they need to see the face and I will guarantee you those kids that were limited on my face and hearing the sounds we did visual phonics and we tell them how your mouth looks for the different sounds. I couldn't do that. I'm sure there are some big gaps in those kids and they're probably second or third-graders now. There are those gaps where they did not get those sounds.

I was speaking to someone and they said that even the younger children who were born during that time, the babies, everybody had masks. They never saw a human face. There is a psychological treatment. You can take your child to learn to accept other humans' faces because they've never seen them. It's like a new species. “Where did you guys come from? I don't know you.”

Looking back as an afterthought, the mask thing was a lot.

We lost a lot. The kids that age have lost a lot and we need to help them. You've created a company. As a teacher, you left the teaching due to not being able to provide what could be possible in the classroom because we all know there's a gap, then you went to the corporate world, but your heart did not leave teaching.

No, it did not. I left the educational world because of the changes. Before I was feeling a little burnt out, but the pandemic was a bigger one. I'm a single mom and I worked three jobs and I was tired. I was not getting the respect that I needed for everything that I was doing and then it came to a point where I thought I deserved more than this.

I have all this education and for what? I have to work three jobs to make ends meet. It was very frustrating and then with the way that the educational system went, it imploded. Coming back, it was very frustrating. I did take a couple of years off and made a lot of money in the sales world, but I missed kids. I missed making that connection with them. I missed helping them.

It took a toll on me. My kids laughed at me because whenever I was out in public, I'd see little kids, I'd say hi and they'd be saying, “Quit being creepy.” I missed their energy and I keep telling people that. I missed being around them. That's why I said, “I'm not done.” I need to find something on my terms to help and your program popped up and I loved it. I said, “That's it. That's what I can do, I can do it.” I tried my own little ways of things, but it's no, but the way that it's more of I do have all this experience, this knowledge and I need to share it. I need to give back. This is the way I can do it.

Impact Of Technology

Let's touch on a few things because parents are tuning in to this show as well. I have a book called Cracking the Parenting Codes because I'm creating a new wave of information for parents. It has become harder and harder for parents to parent. One of the hardest parts is because of our technology. We can look at it as a tool. I look at it as a tool every day. Otherwise, you and I can't even talk right now. We can’t have this happening. I love it, but at the same time, there is a problem that's also surfacing, especially in the kids that you serve.

That is a big factor. I've taught for over 26 years, and 26 years ago is a very different time. That's where I can come in and say, “Wait a minute. This is a huge change.” I remember the times that before autism was so prevalent in our schools. Before that, I remember the first child I had that was an autistic child.

I remember them telling me, “They're coming.” I replied, “What do you mean?” It did and It was this whole new wave of kids arriving in our classrooms. Now we also have another thing coming. Kids are coming to our classrooms because they are addicted to technology and their screen. That is harming their brains.

We know that the brain development of children is the most prevalent from zero up to five. That is the most development in a brain and all they're doing is looking at a screen continuously. People are saying, “They can work their way around an iPad, but they can't have a conversation with somebody.” They could do all this stuff with the technology, but they do not know how to play with a peer.

All those social skills that kids are now lacking. There are deficits left and right in all these kids. All these kids coming to our schools, whereas I remember it was the autism kids that were thinking were coming in. Now we have all these kids with all these big needs because they're stuck in front of a screen. The biggest problem I saw was the speech problems.

The last few years when I was teaching, I remember back when I first started, maybe one child had a speech problem. I left my classroom and I was a preschool teacher, with two classrooms of four-year-olds. These kids were coming into the classroom and I had 20 in each class, probably 6 kids in each class were on a speech IEP. It was because nobody was talking to them.

Nobody was telling them the correct sounds or they were being talked with baby talk. Thought it was cute, but the parents, instead of correcting them, talked that way. We have these kids who are nonverbal and don't talk because parents say, “I gave them this program in front of the iPad to help them learn how to talk.” No, that's not real teaching. That's not real talking.

From what age to what age do you believe as an early educator, there should be, even if it is, you can introduce iPad? It's fine, but there has to be a limit on timing. It's a time schedule. Time and boundaries. What is a good age to bring it in? Do you even need it?

I don't think you even need it. To tell the truth, in our preschool department, we had a large department. We probably had twenty classrooms. I was the first teacher who took technology out of the classroom. That was probably about six years ago that I did that. The district bought all these iPads and all these wonderful things. All the kids did when it was center time, where they were supposed to be either playing blocks or dramatic plays, sensory, all those good things, they were flocked to the technology.

They do that all day. Why do we need to do that more? They're not even doing the academic programs that are appropriate. There are some wonderful apps out there. I don't want to take that away but use it correctly. That's when it's okay. I said, “No, I'm done.” I took it out and there was nothing. I got a lot of teachers telling me, “That's the way of our world today. Why would you take that away?”

We even had computer labs where I taught for a while like how to use the mouse which is a hand-eye coordination skill but then that went away. I know it's the way of our world, but what about those social skills of them playing together? What about the sensory? What about talking to each other and having conversations? I took out of the classroom and I'll tell you, those kids didn't miss it one bit.

To them coming in the classroom was like, “I get to go to preschool.” There was no technology. I did have a smart screen where I did some things on there, but other than that, I turned it off and it wasn't on. I told them, “I am not going to have it.” Fast forward a couple of years and some teachers followed suit.

They said, “Nicole does it. Do they miss it?” I replied, “No.” It opens up more room for more exploration than they should have. I opened up a science center in that area where you had the computers and stuff. It opens up the room to so many possibilities of hands-on learning, not technology.

What we're teaching them is too fast to consume, and then you lose creativity because if I start consuming, I don't need to put my brain into creating anymore. Even the blocks. Putting these blocks on that block is a creative thing. I can create, “I made that.” I could be proud, but here there's no creation.

Yes, and the hands-on. Another deficit I found is fine motor skills in kids. Kids don't have fine motor skills. They do not know how to cut. Handwriting and holding a pencil correctly. Those little things that I think people do not understand are so important for kids. I know people always say, “You play with kids all day.” Yes, we play. We learn through play, but it's very purposeful play and it's developmentally appropriate.

Kids today don't have fine motor skills.

Spending Time With Your Child

I'm going to ask you something as a parent. Let's say I have a young kid who is two years old. My son is 17, but I'm going to pretend I have a two-year-old. I'm listening to this and I'm thinking, I'm so busy though. This world's been busy. The economy is hard. I got to work. I don't have a lot of energy like you, Nicole. At the end of the day, I will say to my two-year-old son, “Have the iPad and be content.” Is that the right thing for me to do even if I'm busy and I'm not being able to be there for him? Two, three, or four-year-old sons.

My question would go back to the parent, “Why do you feel that you can't spend time with your child?” That's what it is, spending that dedicated time. It doesn't need to be a lot, but parents are forgetting their kids and they want that attention.

Also as a society, we have now come to almost be scared or guilty that our child can be bored. It's okay for them to sit and be bored. Why not? I'm tired, here's a book or here's some paper, cut it. Make a mess because I'm tired. I don't have the energy to play, but you can play. I'll sit and watch you.

That's the thing, that parent could be very tired. I've been there, done that. I worked three jobs. I get it but I always at the end of the night, read a story to my kids. That doesn't take much time and reading a story is so simple. The most beautiful time with a child a parent could spend. What is happening now is, I would ask parents, “Do you read to your child?” “Yes, they're on their iPads and they read books all the time.”

“No, did you hear me? Do you read to your child?” There's a difference. Again, you're putting up a screen and they're listening to a computer screen telling them a story. They're spending time with the technology, but they're not spending time with you. Listening to you read and know the importance of reading. The expression of reading, the joy of reading, and the time that you have together.

I know when I was teaching parents, “What can I do to help my kid?” I say, “Read to them. Every night, pick a book and read to them. If they don't have different books, read the same book to them every night.” My kids always pick the same books and we would sit there and they're worn to death. The pages were worn out because we did that.

That is the most important thing and that is lost in today's world. I get so frustrated because when I tell parents that, they'd be saying, “But at the end of the day, we're so tired and it's been a long day. They get that reading, they have their iPad.” I'm like, “You're missing it. If you want my advice and what I'm saying, I'm telling you, read to them. That's it.”

Read to them and have a structured conversation time with them.

Family dinners, sitting down and having dinner with them and asking them questions. Put the phone down, put it away from the table and sit down, have a dinner. Even if it's fast, if you have McDonald's, fine, go sit down with them and have McDonald's with them and have a conversation. You don't have a table. Great. Make a picnic in the living room and sit down and have a picnic with them. It's taking that time. I feel so many kids these days from what I've seen is they want attention because parents and adults are not paying attention to them.

They will be like, “Hey, hey, hey.” The parents will say, “Here's my tech. Here's my phone. Leave me alone.” That's all they want. They want some attention. I know parents are busy. I get it but at the end of the night, reading a story to a child even for less than 10 minutes. Having dinner with your child. That’s it. If you do that every night, you will make a difference. Trust me. I guarantee it. That's where people will say, “I did.” I replied, “Did you really?”

People also think that when I'm going to give some parental advice or anything, we think it's going to have to be something revolutionary. It's not. It's the basic things we used to do. That is what we need to do, sit down, have a conversation, letting our kids be bored. If they say, “I'm bored,” you say, “That's very good. You're bored. What can you do?”

That's where the imagination comes in because now I am teaching kids what to do when they are bored. “I'm bored.” “Okay. That's part of life. What do you do? You can try.” It's teaching them what to do when they're bored.

Bored is okay and if they're cranky because they're bored, that's okay too because, during that cranky period, they'll come up with, “Maybe I want to cut something. Can I cut mom?” “Yes, you can.” They'll come up with the activity. Even I don't have to come up with it. Leaving them for even two minutes, their brains are working fast. They're going to be, “Can I do this, Mom? Can I do that?” I don't even have to come up with the activity. We can leave it to them to be bored and they'll ask us what's next.

Have the kids help them, “I'm making dinner.” Have them help you make dinner. Have them set the table.

Two or three years old, you can give them instructions, “There are five spoons, go put them on the table.”

You're teaching them one-to-one with math concepts, “How many chairs do we have?” “Four.” “That's four. Show me four.” Incorporating all those little lessons into everyday tasks. It's being aware of that. In today's society and today's parents, I don't think they're aware of that and that those are learning opportunities at home for you.

The State Of Kindergarten Today

It has come to the point where we are all saying busy and we're okay with it without thinking about what that busy looks like for all of the rest of the people that we have to take care of our kids. It's okay to be busy, but still, there's a kid that we are responsible for. My child. I need to make these behaviors and skillsets that I need to implement and install and habits and all this stuff. Thank you. I love what you're saying. I want to go back to some of the other questions I had for you. What does kindergarten look like these days? I think there's a shift, 26 years ago was different.

Is it developmentally appropriate? No, it is not.

We talked about how kids are coming in with already being on screen too long. Tell me what's happening in kindergarten.

In the kindergarten classrooms. I taught kindergarten for many years along with preschool and when I taught kindergarten, what I taught was letter sounds, numbers, social interactions, and everything that I taught in preschool in my last part of teaching. It's almost kindergarten now is what first grade was. They have raised all the standards so that now kids in kindergarten are being timed on tests for addition and subtraction.

Kindergarten now is what first grade was.

I remember I walked into a kindergarten room recently, I did a little long-term studying in there and I said, “You guys are doing time tests on addition and subtraction?” My kids were learning what the number was in one-to-one correspondence like, “What is four? Show me four fingers.” That was it and the social skills, but now these kids, for literacy, are reading books. They're expected to read. They're expected to write two sentences in a journal with capital punctuation, spaces, and punctuation at the end, and correctly.

I went, “That is not developmentally appropriate.” Can those kids do that? Sure. You can train them to do that. What about those kiddos that do not have preschool, that did not have the home experience? Some kids do, and are very high level and they can do it. You are you are setting those kids up for failure. That is what is happening. You have these kids going into kindergarten, and they're not kindergarten readiness. Some of them don't have the preschool.

You're jumping him into that where you have a pool of kids that were taught what I used to teach in kindergarten are being taught to them in preschool and then going to kindergarten. You have these groups of kids that did not have any preschool, did not have the experiences and they're going into kindergarten and they're sinking. What used to be grade one is kindergarten now and what used to be grade two is first grade. Everything has shifted. The expectations are now a year ahead

Did something happen to human development? We didn't get a memo about this? Are these kids being born with some extra special skills?

I don't know if it's the curriculum companies that are sending these. I don't know if they think that our children need to be caught up in other countries. I don't know but it's not right. Kids are sinking. The thing is they're spending all this time on content to get them going for kindergarten. Letters, sentences, and timed tests but what are they not teaching is those social skills and those interactions. There are no centers in the kindergarten classrooms anymore. They're either desks or tables. There's no dramatic play. There are no blocks. There's no sensory art table. There's nothing. Creativity is gone. It's sucked out. There are no manipulatives in the morning to create. There's nothing of that.

Schools are not teaching those social skills and interactions. There's no centers in the kindergarten classrooms anymore. They're either desks or tables.

I remember when I did come as I was building my Learning Pearls, I subbed for a little bit in kindergarten. One day they were supposed to have a celebration and I said, “We're going to have a fun Friday.” I set up the whole day of centers where I had put up an easel with paint, free paint, blocks, a sensory, and a fine motor. I set it all up.

We had a calming corner. You got to sit in those, you got to teach kids how to be calm and all that stuff. Those kids had the most amazing day and they were saying, “This is the best day of school ever.” They were ranting and raving about it. I had so many responses from parents. I was a substitute. I set pitchers to all of them. I'm saying that we're going to have a fun kindergarten day.

During that day, those kids, I had so many amazing conversations with them. They're like, “Look what I built. I did this.” They're showing me all their learning, their drawings, the blocks, and what they came up with in the painting. It was amazing. I walked out of there. My heart was so full. They went out with the biggest smiles and you’ll see them all saying, “I love school.” I'm not kidding. They did say that because the parents were picking them up and I'm walking them out.

Parents were saying, “Thank you.” Many responses to emails stated that they had enjoyed it so much, which by the way, one parent reached out to me and wanted some of my services because they were so impressed with the connection. Anyway, it was sad. I brought them one day and I told the principal, I said, “Don't get mad at me, but we're going to have a fun day in kindergarten.” It was messy.

It was supposed to be. What are we talking about? Now I get it some of the teachers I speak to sometimes tell me that these kindergarten kids grade one kids are mad. They're upset and their emotional regulations are off. If I have nowhere to play, nowhere to exert the energy I have as a kindergartener and you tell me to sit at a desk for whatever hours, I'm going to be angry because I like to play.

That's all they wanted to do. I was like, “Go play. Go play.” Even one of the associates is in the room. I think she was saying, “They have to do this.” I replied, “No, they don't.”

Some countries may have better education systems. In those countries, a lot of them also suffer from creativity. As adults, they end up not having that creative energy. You may be good, intelligent, whatever we call smart, or whatever but if you're not smart in other ways, then that smartness doesn't shine through you. It has to be a balance and kindergarten is not the classroom to take away all the sensory stuff and all the play stuff.

It is all gone. I'm so sad about it. It's more like you see those kids coming in that almost days where there's not and no wonder there's behavior problems. The kids are expected to be sitting there. They do have flexible seating. That's the new buzz, flex seating in the classrooms, which I love but it's more of a like, “No, but they need to play.” They have to move. I've changed my little mindset as an adult, “Can I sit still for 45 minutes? Of course, I can't. Do you expect me to sit there? Why should I expect a 3, 4, or 5-year-old to do that and sit there and say something like, “You need to sit still?” “No, they don't.”

Kids need to play. They just have to move.

Developmentally, mentally, everything, every other way these kids are saying, “School sucks.” Grade one is like, “This is a prison. I have to sit, do this, take time test, do this. I don't feel good and I don't like school. I don't know if I like this place.”

That's the sad thing, especially the young ones, the little ones. You want them to be excited about school. “I love school, I love to learn.” That's the mentality you want from them and they're not. They're like, “I want to leave, where's my mom? Why are you making me do work? I'm tired.” Everything of just like, “Wow.”

In grade two, there is a test now for reading that they all have to pass. I think some states have it. I was talking to some teachers. They said that these kids are not trained to use the computer. They know how to use the iPad and stuff, but these computer programs must be on some program where they take it on a desktop and you have to give some instruction on how to do it, but they're not allowed to show them that.

Whoever created this curriculum, they're not supposed to expose them to that program before they take it. A lot of students are failing because they don't know how to operate the program. Even as adults, have you taken some online testing? You have to figure out, “Do I put my answer here? Do I write it? Do I click it?”

There's a format that you have to get tuned to. These are grade two class students. Their computer exposure to a desktop is very little, an iPad may be better, but they're failing not because they don't know. They get frustrated with how to operate the program. They click random answers and say, “I'm done.”

You don't know what their true level is. That you don't know and the thing is if teachers are depending on that technology and the test scores like, “What would the test scores say?” I was a horrible test taker.

Nobody ever taught us how to take tests. Wouldn't that be a lesson a class we can all have?

I sympathize with those kids who struggle with tests. I was a horrible test taker. Let me show you what I know and you'll know I know it. That's why I'm a visual learner. Let me show you, I can show you all you want, but if you give me a test, I freeze up, I don't like it. I take that mentality when I think of kids. I did teach second grade for a little bit. That was the one where I gave grades to those kids. I tell them, “I get it. I did not take a test either.” Again, that's going to be on the teacher. Do they have the time to know? Do they know those kids the way they're supposed to? You got 30 kids in that classroom. How are you going to know if they know it?

No, it's not a fair test. Do you know what it tells the child though? It tells them at the end of the day, you're not good. You're not going to be good at anything. You might as well stop trying. We see these kids later in grade five, six, or seven, they're saying exactly these phrases and we wonder why did you start saying this? What happened?

Whenever I ask, they'll say, “In grade two, I did this or in grade one, I did this. After that, I said to myself I'm not a math person. I'm never going to try it. I didn't like it afterward.” They can pinpoint it. When we trace back, they'll tell me exactly when they decided that I'm going to call myself this and I'm not going to do it.

The Future Of Kids

Why would I do something that makes me feel horrible? Why would I do it again and again? We don't train our kids that they have to push past that and try to ask questions. We don't train them either. They shut down and they declared, “I'm not fit for this.” With this new change, what do you see the future for these kids?

For the kids, it's a new education world out there.

Is it going in the right direction?

No, it is not. When I say it's a new system, as I go into the groups that I'm part of, I see so many people saying, “I'm pulling my kid out.” I'm so fortunate that my youngest son is a senior and he's done with school, but I don't know if I was a young parent. I'm like, “What is going on?” If I had the capability right now, would I want to possibly homeschool with my education? I would love to, but could I financially do that?

Somebody's parents want to pull their kids out, but now you're digging a hole in yourself and you're frustrated. How do you think you're going to teach your child if you're frustrated and trying to make ends meet, but you're frustrated with where the schools are going and you're pulling out? The state of education is not good and I do feel keeping in some sort of contact with the school, local kids in schools, and doing some subbing here and there is keeping me on top of things and seeing what's going on in the schools.

It is not a pretty sight. How many one-to-one aides do they have to go into classrooms? I was in a classroom the other day and it was a preschool classroom and there were only 12 kids maybe in the afternoon. There were six adults in that classroom. All of them were one-on-one aides, and there were maybe three or four typical kids. The rest was all screaming, yelling, running, behavior. I was like, “This is what our schools are. This is what we're doing.” It was very eye-opening.

What Can Parents Do

This new model is going to have lots of behavioral problems. Kids are not going to be able to regulate their state, and their emotions if they're not getting the physical part to compensate for all the outlets they usually have. Socially and emotionally, as you said, it's going to be a tragedy for them. Plus the phone on top of it and the iPad to add to the mixture. I'm not saying to parents it's all doomsday but we have to think about this. That's why we're talking about this. This is not to blame somebody or anything. We're talking about it because what can parents do, Nicole? What can they do?

Pay attention to your child first. Play with them. If I'm talking to parents of young preschool kindergartners, pay attention to them, play with them, read with them. Pay attention to them. That's what they want and spend that time. You wanted to be a parent, you have this child, be that parent. That's what I say. You wanted this child. They are your life.

I say that as a mom, my kids, I would do the world for them. I would give the world, do whatever it would be and any parents should feel that way. If you do, then spend that time with them. It's a very easy fix for these little kids. It's very easy if the parents would help and do it. That's the frustrating part. It's not these kids' fault.

That's where my compassion and empathy come from because it's not their fault. I get frustrated with adults when they have kids, they see kids that are out in public and showing these big behaviors and stuff. I watch who the adult they're with, and I say, “It's not their fault.” They haven't been taught correctly. They have not been given the modeling that needs to be done. That's where my empathy and compassion go for those kids.

Where the system is going, sometimes we think as parents, because we're busy, we send our kids to school thinking that it will happen there.

As a preschool teacher, that's what has happened, which made me go like, parents were sending these kids to school. Sometimes we had three, four, and five-year-olds in my room at the time. That was their mentality. They'll learn in school. These kids came to school not being potty trained. The school would do it, and then they would get mad when I would say I don't have the facilities to do it or the time.

You can leave your class to go do it.

That was another thing. I'm going to be at a ratio. I've got 20 kids. It's the safety part. You're going to bring in pull-ups. That was probably one of the biggest things. Kids were coming into our classrooms, not potty trained, and had no idea what a letter was, let alone a color. They wouldn't even know their colors. I'm like, “You don't know your colors?” How simple is that as a parent? These kids are coming in with some skills, expecting the school to take care of them. That's not our job. I'm not a daycare. I'm not changing diapers. That's not what I am.

Parents did not understand that and that's what the frustrating thing is, then if you're in the public schools, they couldn't put a cap on it. It's like we can't say they can't come if they're not trained and they send them anyway. My whole day was spent teaching kids how to go to the bathroom and then the parents were saying, “They are potty trained. Yes, they are.” No, they're not. It was a constant battle going in with parents and kids.

The parents don't know what that readiness looks like. When they're two or three, they should have these informational workshops for parents to show them what readiness looks like. Sometimes parents could be a parent but not sure what to expect from it.

I think some parents are going online and seeing what they see on social media and say, “Yes, they do. Look at this one.” I think they're so entrenched with their phone and what they're seeing. “That's the way it is.” No, get back to basics. Teach them how to go to the bathroom. Teach them how to eat. Teach them how to ask questions and have a conversation. That's not what's going on. That's why a lot of kids come in nonverbal sometimes. Not that they're autistic or on the spectrum or anything like that. They're refusing to talk.

That's another thing. Your child could be labeled something, but they do not meet those labels. They're not that.

That's what we are for because I think parents say, “They're special-ed. They need this.” No, they don't need those special services. They don't need to be on an IEP. They don't need to have a 504 plan. What they need is attention. They need to specialize, dig deep into what they need, and give them that support. Don't label them as a special-ed child because they're not.

Kids need attention. We need to dig deep into what they need and give them that support.

That's that big gap and I think that as a learning success coach that we're doing is we are trying to fill and find those kids because there's a lot of that big gap of it's not an IEP problem and it's not a 504 problem.” It's that let's get them the support they need. Maybe for the young kids, be proactive rather than reactive. That's where I'm at. Specializing in early childhood is more I'm going to be proactive rather than reactive. I think that's what I want. That's the way to go. That's what I want kids to do.

That's the way to go. Plus, also education for parents is important. That's what we do too and that's why that book, Cracking the Parenting Codes is about in this next movement we're doing about as parents are sometimes not aware because we are busy. That's also something we have to retrain. Even if I'm busy, I can take my two-year-old or three-year-old and take them to the park and I can sit there. They'll do their thing because that's what kids do.

My son used to pull me and say, “Can you push me on the swing?” A couple of pushes, a couple of runs, a couple of up and down the slide, he's tired, bring him back, we're good. The tired has to go away. “I'm tired. I'm busy. I can't do this anymore.” I think we need to train as parents not to say those things because if we don't do it, no one's going to do it.

Screen Time

It's not that school is going to do it. If anything, school is getting worse and worse, and what they're expecting from your child. When they go there, they're expecting a grade two student to be sitting at a desk, ready to work and let's ready to go. Let's go back to this because my biggest push right now is screen time. What's what do you think between the ages of two to six?

Should I even introduce myself, if you were telling me, as an honest friend to me? I have a two-year-old right now. You're looking at me and I'm asking you, “Nicole, should I give my son my phone when I'm busy sometimes? I'll take him to the park sometimes. Should I even give him my iPad because he can learn lots of skills from it? Should I avoid all of that until he's five or six and introduce it later? He'll pick it up, no problem. He'll have all those skills I know.” What are you going to tell me?

If you want my honest opinion, wait till they're five or six. There's no need for a child to be looking at a screen. If you want to distract them or if you're at a restaurant or whatever. That's why they have crayons and paper.

There's no need for a child to be looking at a screen.

We used to play hangman.

Those are the best times we had with my kids. We are in a restaurant. They have crayons. Especially if they're tablecloths.

I take them with me. They're always in my pocket too. In my bag, there were always crayons.

It was my little bag of tricks I'd have whenever I go. I'm like, What do I get for my kids?” I would have it there and we would sit there. As a family, if we're out to dinner or do that, I do not like it, and when I was a server, one of my jobs, that's all I saw of recently was kids, parents, and families coming in and boom.

Kids had an iPad in front of them or with their phones. They're not even talking to the child when they're out to dinner. As an educator, I keep my mouth shut during this time, and say something like, “Maybe you should talk to them.” The kid had no interaction with them the whole dinner. They had headphones on too. They had headphones and a phone, put off in the corner of the booth to eat. That was their night out. I know parents like, “Why do we never have time to go out to dinner? We can't find a babysitter. That's our time.”

Pay for that babysitter. If you want to dedicate time with you and your partner, then do that. What the message you're sending is you're not important enough to have a conversation with. This is our time, but we have you right here. We're going to forget about you. I know that sounds harsh. What's going through their mind is, “Whenever we get there.” If you ask the child later, “What did you do?” I went out to dinner. I don't know what I had to eat. They wouldn't even know what they ordered.

Some kids are eating like this too. With the phone in front of them, they don't even know what's going on.

The point of going out to dinner is to enjoy a good meal or a new meal. That's another thing a society of parents says, “We don't want them to disrupt anybody in the restaurant.” Why would they be disruptive? Do they have big behaviors? Why are those behaviors big? What are you doing to control that?” It's more of asking more and more questions. You guys are putting band-aids on stuff and finding out what is the real problem then.

That is the time to teach those too. At the restaurants, the model is we do this. At the church, we do this. At the grocery store, it looks like this. If you constantly model that, that behavior becomes when I go to a restaurant, I behave this because if I scream, that's not acceptable because I'm going to be destroying somebody else's. It's a habit that we have.

It's a big habit. You brought up something about going to the grocery store. I would bring my kids to the grocery store. I'd be like, “Look at all this stuff. Why is this here?” What great learning opportunities. “Here's numbers for prices. Why do they have numbers of prices when we go to a store?” Those are all those educational for those young kids. That should be done but no, what did they do? They put them in the front or they're in the back and they have an iPad as they're being pushed around in the store.

Do you know what I learned with my son? I spent the first five years with him. There was not a moment I left him. It was always engaged. Some way or somehow it was engaged, then because of those five strong years, my son has such a strong personality, he knows who he is, then the years after that were easy for me. It's an investment. The first five to six years are investment. When you do it, it pays in a compounding way later.

You are so right. I use my kids as an example. My oldest is 28, but when he was my first one, we met him and we were engaged. I took him everywhere. That's not a thing is taking kids and they're saying, “They're in front of an iPad, wherever they're at.” I'm like, “No, we traveled with our kids. I took them everywhere and they noticed every experience.” They were so well-traveled that they could go to places and they would experience it.

Now my son, when he went to college, was a young one. He was one of those younger kindergarteners. He went to college when he was 17 years old. He graduated when he was 21. He moved to New York City on his own at 21 and he's still there. I'm in the Midwest in Iowa. For him to be going all the way out to New York City on his own, and he's thriving. I'm so proud of him.

Those to me were the experiences that I gave him when he was younger for him to feel that he was strong enough, dependent enough, and socially he could do that, that he made that transfer. He flew away. That's how I say it. He was invested and I know people say when he moved off to New York, “Don't you want him close to you?” I replied, “No, if he's living in New York, I've done my job.”

You still have a connection. He calls you.

Yes, we talk almost every day.

That's what I mean, then it also continues because we have a relationship built that continues. After all, they look to me. I watched with my son, I wouldn't say I didn't let him watch anything. He never had an iPad or phone until later in the years. I think he was 13 or 12 when I gave him one because he had to walk home by himself. After all, I was working, something that.

The iPad was never there but if we ever did watch anything It was together. We watched Magic School Bus. We watched the Cars shows. I know even all the script because I watched it maybe millions of times. After all, it went in every time I went in. Yes, I'm excited to see what the cars are going to do now. Finding Nemo. We watched it together. We have a memory of it. Even though it was screen time, the screen time was meaningful to both of us. That's another thing. I could be tired and busy. I could have my computer there and watch with him. Whenever he gets excited about Nemo, I also get excited about Nemo's movie. I could still work and be busy, but I'm there when he's ready for that excitement.

You're engaging with him and keeping that in there knowing, “I'm paying attention to you. You are important. I see you.”

Even watching their shows like watching Nemo again and again. He asked me, “Put it on, let's watch it again for the fifth time.”

They are watching you. Kids are watching you. They are so observant. You don't see that they watch you all the time. That's why if they're watching me all the time, why am I not modeling what I want them to see? That's what it is. Everybody has their bad moments or times or whatever. I know if it was something but it's the modeling, it's the time, it's the investment that you put in your kids.

Kids are watching you all the time. Why are you not modeling what you want them to see?

You put the time into your kids and they're going to grow up, they're going to bloom but if you don't and you're just, “Let somebody else take care of that. Let the school take care of that. Put a tablet in front of them.” You're not investing any time with your child. You're going to see the results. That's the difference. If you want to know what the difference is, look at those families of the parents that do invest the time with their kids and the ones that don't.

Anything else you want to say to parents?

Spend time with them, read with those kids, especially those young ones. I'm concerned about the future generation that we have. I'm very concerned about it and I feel in about 20 years, we're going to have a generation of not very competent individuals.

Their souls were lost. Their spirit is not fully developing. They're being robbed of their childhood. There are so many things that are happening. That's why I'm so passionate about what we do and everything some parents might think we might be saying harsh things to them right now, but this is reality. If we don't wake up, our kids could be robbed of their childhood. We have to wake up.

Even if you've been doing it, it's not about blaming the parents or anyone. It's about waking up and becoming aware. It is what is happening to my child. I must take a stand for my child and I must invest to enjoy the compound effect that has in the future. Every parent has that responsibility. There's no way they can give it to anyone else. Nope.

I also feel if they say that I don't have the money and this or that but do you have money to help with their sporting? People are spending so much money. They want to be the best in baseball or softball. You spend on that. What about them as a person? Invest in that and the rest will come. That's probably the biggest thing for parents is you're going to get the services that we have with all of our, for me, all of my experience and education and my compassion and empathy. I want to help your child. You got to want to help your child too and that's where it comes into it.

Thank you so much and thank you for finding those pearls in every baby and kidbecause they are the future of our generations to come and we need to help them. We can’t just watch it happen. Thank you so much for what you do.

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Nice having you.


There you have it. That was an amazing conversation with Nicole. This conversation touches my heart because as you heard her say, there's so much change happening in our early childhood education for our kids. As parents, we have to wake up. I do believe firmly what she said is that we cannot give our kids five or six, no iPads, and no phones, it's not necessary.

If you're going to give it, it has to be something you're engaging with. As I said in previous episodes as well, when you hand over this iPad or phone, you are telling them that you're not important. I don't have time for you. Go on it and when you get them to get addicted to those dopamine kicks, you're going to have a problem taking away from that.

Also, they're going to go into a classroom that's already expecting so much from them from a kindergarten level. They're going to have problems sitting and doing work because they need the fast interaction that's on the iPad. That's not how our kids learn. We're changing the way we learn as human beings. We have to be mindful as parents. I cannot say enough, it is your responsibility. If you decide to have a child, it is your responsibility to take care of that child.

She's right. We're not blaming anyone. We're trying to help here that we have to set our boundaries and balances. If you're a new parent, what you need to do is to set those up and spend those intentional moments with your child by being present, modeling what's right, and implementing value systems that you hold in your family so that your child can have that stable base when they begin.

I'm also going to say that until they're five or six, don't have any iPads, don't have any phones in their hands, interact as much as possible, and let them be bored. It is okay for them to be bored. They should be bored because that's where creativity comes in. You can already hear that the school system is changing. Nicole has 26 years in the classroom. She left and went into a corporate job, but her heart wasn't in it. She came back and now she is a certified holistic neuro growth learning success coach.

As a holistic neuro growth learning success coach, we're all on a mission to serve 1.5 million students and families by 2035. That's why I launched a book a month ago, which is called Cracking the Parenting Codes because I want to help parents themselves. I want teachers to be helped as well so that we can help our children because at the center of all of this mess and chaos are our children and they need our support, otherwise, they make up their own stories and these stories will hurt them forever in their lives.

We need to help them implement and learn good habits and we need to help them condition themselves with positivity and a great outlook for the future. It's important. I ask all parents to be mindful of the way they're raising their children, mindful of the amount of time they have with their phones and iPads.

Those small things we did as a family, go back to the basics, like Nicole said. It's important. Nicole's offers an amazing program for young students and families. If you're interested, I will have her information in the show note. Contact her, she'll set you up with an amazing program and if there's any gap, or if any foundations are missing for your child, she will help you from her heart. That's why I love her program. Thank you for tuning in and I'll see you on another episode.

Important Links

About Nicole Colosimo

Aligned Learning Revolution | Nicole Colosimo | Kindergarten

Educator for over 26 years teaching grades: PreK, Kindergarten, 2nd, 4th. Born and has lived in Des Moines, Iowa my entire life Single Mom of 3 INCREDIBLE Boys! Tom (28), Eddie (25), Cole(18) Hobbies include: Yoga, Cooking, Concerts, and Traveling I describe myself as a person that is compassionate and empathetic towards others and wants to help children and families in any way that I can.

Today I have the pleasure to meet with Nicole Colosimo, she is an extraordinary single mother of three 3 INCREDIBLE Boys, A dedicated teacher with over 26 years in shaping young minds across PreK to 4th.

Her life is a testament to resilience and passion, balancing the roles of a nurturing parent to her three incredible boys and a committed educator.

KindergartenTechnologyEducationParentingScreen TimeEarly Childhood Learning
blog author image

Kohila Sivas

Kohila Sivas is a parent and a lifelong learner. She has been a classroom teacher at all levels and a Special Needs Instructor and is a Professional Math Interventionist, a Master NLP coach, and a #1 Best selling author.

Back to Blog