High Pressure Kindergarten

Ah, kindergarten. You may remember it as a "happy land of building blocks and singalongs," but not anymore.

In this interesting article over at The Boston Globe, Patti Hartigan explains how kindergarten has turned into a high-pressure academic boot camp for little kids:

... increasingly in schools across Massachusetts and the United States, little children are being asked to perform academic tasks, including test taking, that early childhood researchers agree are developmentally inappropriate, even potentially damaging. If children don’t meet certain requirements, they are deemed “not proficient.” Frequently, children are screened for “kindergarten readiness” even before school begins, and some are labeled inadequate before they walk through the door.

This is a troubling trend to an experienced educator like Gerzon, who knows how much a child can soak up in the right environment. After years of study and practice, she’ll tell you that 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.

Link (Illustration: Paul Blow)

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I wonder how much of this has to do with a new generation of parents and lack of attention to things that were common skills a child should have before entering Kindergarten. Some of these kids are barely out of diapers and off a pacifier before they start school and some have no idea how to behave in what is their very first real social situation. Nevermind the usual things like counting to ten or twenty, knowing the alphabet and being able to write your full name and birthday. Kids should be kids, but parents need to be parents as well. It's not all fun and games all the time. Sometimes you have to sit still, be quiet and learn and the best place to start that is at home before Kindergarten.
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