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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Kindergarten the new 1st grade?

It's been a long time since I was in Kindergarten (Kg) and I'm pretty sure that we weren't pushed as hard as today's Kindergartners are today! Oh yeah I attended Kg at Shedd.
Forget cookies and milk, nap time and finger painting. Kindergarten has gotten serious in the past 20 years — and even more so in the past 10. Due to forces ranging from rising parental expectations to the No Child Left Behind Act, many children now attend full-day programs complete with homework and standardized testing.

"Basically, kindergartens have become first grades," said Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor of education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass.

The growing expectations are controversial, with some experts saying the new kindergarten squeezes out forms of spontaneous play (building with blocks, for instance, or playing make-believe) that are vital to a child's long-term academic success.

Edward Miller, a senior researcher at the nonprofit Alliance for Childhood, points to a pivotal — and seemingly counterintuitive — German study that found that kids who had attended play-based kindergartens actually did better in reading and math at age 10 than kids who had attended academic kindergartens.

"I think the child's innate interest in learning things gets suppressed and basically atrophies" in academic kindergarten, Miller said.

"It starts this process of burnout where they don't learn to love learning and they don't really enjoy school. School becomes a chore. They're exhausted by the experience of school, even in the really early grades, and the long-term effect is that, by the third or fourth or fifth grade, they're done. They're really not interested anymore."

On the other side of the issue are researchers who say that play is important, but academics are, too, particularly for disadvantaged kids who may start school far behind their peers.

"If you want children to know how to read, you don't work on their social skills" in a play-based kindergarten, said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C. 
You know, I wish I could find some studies on the importance of pre-school or pre-kindergarten (pre-k). Hillary Clinton advocated for universal pre-k, same effect as turning Kg into the 1st grade. It seems today's parents want to push their children harder!

Read the whole thing! Via Newsalert!

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