Education

Has kindergarten become too much, too soon?

Ariel Simpson works on numbers in La’Tris Sykes kindergarten class at Lincoln Park Elementary School Thursday, Sept. 23, 2015.(Michael Spooneybarger/ Studer Community Institute)

Education reporter Valerie Strauss wrote a great blog for the Washington Post about kindergarten — “Kindergarten the new first grade? It’s actually worse than that.”

In recent years, parents and teachers have become increasingly concerned about changes in kindergarten classes across the nation, leading many to surmise if kindergarten has become the new first grade.

Recent accounts suggest that accountability pressures have trickled down into the early elementary grades and that kindergarten today is characterized by a heightened focus on academic skills and a reduction in opportunities for play.

In her blog, Strauss writes:

Yes, we’ve been asking if kindergarten is the new firs grade — and declaring that it is — for well over a decade. It has been years now that academics came to dominate kindergarten as the importance of standardized tests grew in the No Child Left Behind era, and play-based learning receded.

A glimpse into a kindergarten classroom today will find little children spending hours at their tiny desks doing academic work, too often at the expense of recess, art music and play time.

The kindergartners are heavily tested and expected to do school work that they are not developmentally or academically able to perform.

No one is suggesting that children shouldn’t be learning a lot in kindergarten and that they can’t do classwork.

The question is, when is too much, too soon?