Earlier this year the Alliance for Childhood came out with a report called, "Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School."
In that report, they said...
...by age 10 children in play-based kindergartens excel over others in reading, math, social and emotional learning, creativity, oral expression, industriousness, and imagination.In the last 6 months there have been numerous media references to this report.
Developmentally inappropriate practices are putting young children’s health and academic progress at risk.
On April 29, 2009 in the New York Times Magazine, Peggy Orenstein wrote:
...all that testing is wasted: it neither predicts nor improves young children’s educational outcomes. More disturbing, along with other academic demands, like assigning homework to 5-year-olds, it is crowding out the one thing that truly is vital to their future success: play.
In the May/June 2009 issue of the Harvard Education Letter, David McKay Wilson wrote:
A report from the American Academy of Pediatrics...concluded that play was essential for healthy brain development. And a cross-national study of 1,500 young children in 10 countries found that children’s language at age seven improved when teachers let them choose their activities rather than teaching them in didactic lessons.
On August 8, 2009, MSNBC presented "Tutoring Tots" in which Jacqueline Stenson, quoting from the report, wrote:
kindergartens have changed dramatically in the last two decades “from places where love of learning was thoughtfully nurtured into pressure-cooker classrooms where teachers are required to follow scripts, labor under unrealistic one-size-fits-all standards, and test children relentlessly on their performance. Kindergarten has ceased to be a garden of delight and has become a place of stress and distress.”
On August 24, 2009, writing in the Salt Lake Tribune, Kirsten Stewart, quoting from the report, wrote:
the nation is "blindly pursuing education policies that could well damage the intellectual, social and physical development of an entire generation."
Finally, today, August 30, 2009, Patti Hartigan wrote in the Boston Globe:
5-year-olds don’t learn by listening to a rote lesson, their bottoms on their chairs. They learn through experience. They learn through play. Yet there is a growing disconnect between what the research says is best for children -- a classroom free of pressure -- and what’s actually going on in schools.
In schools across the country, children are being asked to perform academic tasks, including test taking, that early childhood researchers (and I would venture to say, teachers as well) agree are developmentally inappropriate and potentially damaging!
I had hoped that the federal role in education would encompass change I could believe in...
Unfortunately for the kindergartners of the US things haven't changed at all. "No Child Left Behind" is still leaving sound educational practice behind.
Kindergarten has changed radically in the past two decades. New research in Los Angeles and New York shows what is happening in today’s full-day kindergartens:
• 2–3 hours per day of literacy and math instruction and testing
• Of that, 20–30 minutes per day of standardized testing and test preparation
• Less than 30 minutes per day—and often no time at all—for play or choice time
These practices may produce higher scores in first and second grade, but at what cost? Long-term studies suggest that the early gains fade away by fourth grade and that by age 10 children in play-based kindergartens excel over others in reading, math, social and emotional learning, creativity, oral expression, industriousness, and imagination.
Developmentally inappropriate practices are putting young children’s health and academic progress at risk. It is time for a change.
Contact: The Alliance for Childhood