How Much is too Much in Kindergarten?

This article originally found at NPR

Nowadays, kindergarteners are learning things that are increasingly more complex. When I was a child, kindergarten consisted of sitting on a mat playing games like duck-duck-goose and who stole the cookie from the cookie jar, naps, and play-doh. It was also about preparing for going to a higher grade. Of course, there were times to read and learn and things like that, but it was a relaxed environment for the most part. We were able to play, as children should, in order to expand their creativity.

NPR reviewed a study done by the University of Virginia that highlighted some of the changes that have taken place between 1998 and 2010 with regards to what is required of kindergarten students.

More Testing
What kindergartner needs testing, and a standardized test at that? This is something I surely do not believe in. However, in 2010, “73 percent of kindergarteners took some kind of standardized test [and] one-third took tests at least once a month.” This was not even a question in the research in 1998.

This is getting too stressful for children. We shouldn’t be teaching them how to take tests; they should be learning to expand their minds in general, especially at this age.

Less of the Arts, Sciences, and Student Choice
I am deeply saddened by this fact. According to the research between 1998 and 2010, music in kindergarten classes dropped from 34 percent to 16 percent, and art went from 27 to 11 percent. They don’t cover dinosaurs and space, and they don’t have much creative time anymore. It’s all based on a certain structure now. What child doesn’t want to learn about the wonders of space? My two-year-old watches The Science Channel with his father all of the time. He is intrigued.

Don’t get me wrong, structured learning is okay for part of the day, but don’t take away the arts that really help to advance their minds in different areas. It’s not about what they are learning (although they could use bringing back all those things stated above), but rather how they are learning. Children need hands-on learning where they can touch and feel things.

Now, things could have changed in the last six years, so another study should be done especially since Common Core has come around (I know I look at it and can’t figure it out). Nevertheless, our children should keep learning and having fun at the same.

Read more of the original article at Why Kindergarten Is The New First Grade

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