Sunday, May 24, 2009

Only 19 minutes of free play in Kindergarten

A friend sent me this article.

Kindergarten Cram

....When I was a child, in the increasingly olden days, kindergarten was a place to play. We danced the hokey­pokey, swooned in suspense over Duck, Duck, Gray Duck (that’s what Minnesotans stubbornly call Duck, Duck, Goose) and napped on our mats until the Wake-Up Fairy set us free.

No more. Instead of digging in sandboxes, today’s kindergartners prepare for a life of multiple-choice boxes by plowing through standardized tests with cuddly names like Dibels (pronounced “dibbles”), a series of early-literacy measures administered to millions of kids; or toiling over reading curricula like Open Court — which features assessments every six weeks.

According to “Crisis in the Kindergarten,” a report recently released by the Alliance for Childhood, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, 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.

A graphic included in the article showed that kindergartners spend on average....

89 minutes on literacy
47 minutes on math
21 minutes on test prep
19 minutes on free play

I wonder why they ask homeschoolers about socialization. It is the school kids with a problem.

Regardless of the cause, Miller says, accelerating kindergarten is unnecessary: any early advantage fades by fourth grade. “It makes a parent proud to see a child learn to read at age 4, but in terms of what’s really best for the kid, it makes no difference.” For at-risk kids, pushing too soon may backfire. The longitudinal High/Scope Preschool Curriculum Comparison Study followed 68 such children, who were divided between instruction- and play-based classrooms. While everyone’s I.Q. scores initially rose, by age 15, the former group’s academic achievement plummeted. They were more likely to exhibit emotional problems and spent more time in special education. “Drill and kill,” indeed.

Here's an irony for you. Early academics can lead to lower academic achievement and emotional problems. Brilliant!

This was one of the major reasons we choose to homeschool. We had a coveted spot at a local "basics plus" school. They were beginning an all day kindergarten program and with an accelerate academics approach. I'm so glad my kids never went to that school.

This is also one of the reasons I find universal preschool so scary. Can you imagine how much harm they would do with preschoolers?

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education


Marbel said...

Wow. What is with these people?

I have a 10 year old who showed no interest in reading till she was 6 1/2. Now, she eats books and has started writing stories.

My 12 year old was an even later reader, not fluent till about 9. He has some learning problems that we are working on but reads very well and reads more than most kids his age care to. His other learning problems might or might not have been "fixed" sooner if he'd gone to kindy. Most likely he would have been medicated.

Yeah, I know, anecdotal. I don't think my kids are really unusual.

Charlotte said...

My oldest will be four this summer. To send her to preschool has been top on my mind lately, as everyone around us is in preschool. I also taught at an 'excelled' school. It some ways, it was really great. In other ways, more play time would have been great too. My kids always did really well. I let them play longer than the other classes :) and we spent a lot of time having fun while reading. Crazy concept, huh?

Anyway, I really appreciated this post this morning. No more thoughts about preschool here...we're staying home!

Mrs. C said...

I had SUCH A GOOD TIME in kindergarten! There were some hard things, too, like taking turns. That part was really really tough for me and I remember crying about that.

But on the whole... a lot of fun! The teachers took us outside to look at milkweeds. They had plants growing. I learned that water evaporated. I got to bring the class cookies on my special day.

I already read at the age of four, and the teachers were pretty impressed. Thankfully, I was not required to do bunches of academics then. I think I'd have never picked up a book again.

I have a non-verbal child who will go to "special needs" preschool. He uses PECs to talk. Could I give him a good education at home?

Honestly, I'm not sure. I will say generally, parents are the best teachers. But I will also say that sometimes with special cases we need a little extra help. Having a non-verbal autistic child is not something that I've seen modeled. I have a lot of questions, and the people I need to ask are the people who have seen this before, you know?

Then again, I'm not sending him for good test scores. I would just like him to be able to communicate. Maybe use the potty before he's six would be nice, too.


MiaZagora said...

My kids all learned to read fairly early, but because they wanted to andd not because I pushed them.

I think preschool and Kindergarten are highly overrated. My kids have always been homeschooled. I was going to put my oldest child in Kindergarten when the time came, but a neighbor with older kids told me (incorrectly, I later found out) that kids have to know how to read BEFORE they enter Kindergarten. My daughter didn't learn to read until the summer after Kindergarten.

So, because she couldn't read, and because we have a large homeschooling group in our church, I started homeschooling. The next year I looked at putting her in regular school, but the school we're zoned for has a lot of problems. Also, they said she would have to go to Kindergarten and not first grade because she didn't attend an "accredited" Kindergarten program.

We did attend a co-op three days per week - one day at church and two days per week at the local YMCA. So, basically, she had school only three days per week. She had a blast at YMCA, learning to swim and having PE. She had a music "class" and Spanish "class" and some sort of science class. I think all Kindergarten should be that way!

Janine Cate said...

I should jump in a say that all my kids, even Baby Bop, went to preschool. However, it was a parent co-op preschool with a developmental emphasis.

The 2 year olds went only once a week for 3 hours with a parent.

The 3 year olds went twice a week for three hours and the parent went once a week.

The 4 year olds went 3 times a week following the same pattern.

Every class had weekly parent participation plus a teach and a teacher's aid. They also did things like play in the mud and paint.

If my local school's kindergarten had been a play program, my kids might have gone to school

Angie Phipps said...

I paid for my son to go to a 4-year-old preschool program that was taught by certified teachers and supposed to advance him along in his reading and math abilities. After one year, he still couldn't count beyond 10, and didn't know his alphabet.

I took it into my own hands and taught him his alphabet and the letter sounds in two weeks, then we moved on to sounding out words. Within just a few months he was reading. I also taught him his numbers, not by rote memory (counting), but by counting everything around us.

It's never about when you start, it's more about how you start. We taught early learning through play. My son's kindergarten curriculum was not pencil and paper heavy--more talking and doing--in the real world!

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

What the schools don't get yet, is that it doesn't do much good to have kids that technically read very well but hate it and will never pick up a book outside of school time. I can't tell you how many of my friends' very bright kids who are in the 'gifted' reading programs at school detest the actual reading of books and will only do it to get points or a grade. They see reading as something that is 'school work'. That's what the drill and kill, endless worksheet and test prep approach will get you.
Better in my mind to have an early grades program that does lots of hands on science projects, geography, music, art, socio-dramatic play and has the kids listen to great literature. Expand their minds and they will want to read later to find out more about their world.-----

The Conservative Homeschooler said...

19 minutes! What are they teaching? Speed socialization?

That is pretty frightening to consider that there seems a need to "intercede" earlier and earlier to the point that the parent gets pushed out, more and more.

The 'Smarty Pants' Family said...

Agreed!I remember painting at the paint booths, playing house in the awesomely stocked mini kitchen, coloring...I am starting to wish I could just go back to Kindergarten for one more day, tehe. Now my kids need to be reading by the time they are out...what? It is getting crazy. thank heaven for homeschooled Kindergarteners. Someone is going to have some fun in this world and it's gonna be my kids! Haha.