New Report: Crisis in the Kindergarten

Posted by on August 31, 2009

Easily quantified, tests trump playtime in kindergarten

With a national push for universal kindergarten and preschool, pressure has risen on administrators to prove these programs are worth the investment. This has led to increased teaching and testing of literacy and math skills for young children, a trend bemoaned by child development experts, writes The Salt Lake Tribune. While “Doubling time in kindergarten should mean twice the time for instruction,” said Reed Spencer, who is designing a uniform testing tool for Utah’s full-day kindergarten programs, child advocates are calling for a return to play-based teaching. A report from the Alliance for Childhood warns that the nation is “blindly pursuing educational policies that could well damage the intellectual, social, and physical development of an entire generation.” Classic play materials like blocks, sand-and-water tables, and props for dramatic play are disappearing, and in many kindergartens there is no playtime. Edward Miller, a co-author of the study, says research shows that kids who engage in complex socio-dramatic play develop higher levels of thinking, stronger language and social skills, and more empathy and imagination than children who don’t. Despite this, curriculum designers continue to push phonics and other discrete skills, since they’re easier to measure.

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