Sunday, February 16, 2014

Kindergarten is the New First Grade

Researchers at the University of Virginia have found that kindergartens have changed in important ways in recent decades.

As someone who's been at it for over thirty years, I can attest to big changes in kindergarten. It has gotten more and more focused on "academics" and less and less on pretty much everything else.

Thirty years ago, I was arguably the most "academic" kindergarten teacher in town. These days I'm far from the most "academic" teacher in  town. I've worked to make sure there's a still a place for art, drama, music, dance, blocks, bikes, and time outdoors to play. And yet throughout my career, my kindergarten has grown more and more and more focused on early reading, writing and math skills.

An article in the University of Virginia Today suggests that todays kindergartens resemble first grades of before. Sadly, what was once nurtured in kindergarten—social, psychological, and emotional development—is at least as  important to success in life as literacy and numeracy.

A quote from the article:

Kindergarten classrooms, at least traditionally, have included much broader goals beyond teaching reading and math skills, according to Bassok. Children were learning how to share and navigate friendships, how to cooperate but also how to be confident and self-sufficient. 
“We know that these early social skills are important predictors of students’ learning trajectories,” Bassok said. “So our worry is that if done inappropriately, the focus on academics may have really pushed these other kind of learning opportunities aside.”

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