Yesterday, 5-24-07, my son finished kindergarten, his first year of formal education. He goes to a charter school and, thus far, my wife and I are pleased with the results. Not only is my boy reading at a second-grade level, he is also writing in cursive, a skill, along with reading and math, stressed at his school. Speaking strictly from personal experience (but other adults I have talked to have had similar experiences), my own kindergarten education, some forty-odd years ago, seemed to stress playing.
Of course, my wife and I put a lot of time in with our son to make sure he does his reading, writing, and math homework assignments completely and accurately. We also read to the boy regularly, both in English and in Russian. Few children, my wife and I believe, especially in the early years, have the discipline and resolve to make the extra effort it takes to excel at schoolwork, and our son is no exception, hence our active participation in his education. It's not only our obligation as parents to do this, but also our sincere pleasure.