Kindergartners are now under great pressure to meet inappropriate expectations, including academic standards that until recently were reserved for first grade.
Kindergarten, which is German for “children’s garden,” is serious stuff these days. With half-day programs giving way to full days in state after state, the curriculum once saved for first grade has been pushed down to 5- and 6-year-olds. Nearly 98 percent of youngsters in the United States attend
Time spent on academic content, and even time spent on increasingly challenging academic content should not automatically be seen as a threat to kindergarten. Children learn from birth, so kindergarten should provide children with opportunities and supports appropriate for where they are. Early childhood education has always embraced the (academic and social and emotional) content that young children need to learn. Kindergartners (and all young children!) can learn academic content that is appropriate to where they are developmentally.
A 2015 report, “Lively Minds: Distinctions Between Academic Versus Intellectual Goals for Young Children,” offered a new way to look at what is appropriate in early childhood education. The report, by Lilian G. Katz, professor emeritus of early childhood education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and past president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, said in part:
The main argument presented here is that the traditional debates inthe field about whether to emphasize so-called free play or formal beginning academic instruction are not the only two options for the early childhood curriculum. Certainly some proportions of time can be given to both of those kinds of curriculum components. But in the early years, another major component of education – (indeed for all age groups) must be to provide a wide range of experiences, opportunities, resources and contexts that will provoke, stimulate, and support children’s innate intellectual dispositions.
Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?
Study: “Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?”
Authors: Daphna Bassok (University of Virginia), Scott Latham (University of Virginia), Anna Rorem (University of Virginia)
Published online January 7, 2016, in the AERA peer-reviewed journal AERA OpenPeriodically, AERA will send out a brief overview, or snapshot, of a recent study that has been published in one of its peer-reviewed journals. AERA’s “Study Snapshots” provide a high-level glimpse into new education research.To see the full study, click HERE[aeramail.org].