Making kindergarten intellectually stimulating does not preclude making it fun and play-based, as well, write Daphna Bassok, Amy Claessens, and Mimi Engel.
Kindergarten classrooms are also far more academically oriented. Research shows that most kindergarten teachers now think academic instruction should begin in preschool and indicate that it’s important for incoming kindergartners to already know their letters and numbers. Today’s kindergarten teachers are spending much more time on literacy and expect their students to learn to read before 1st grade. The implications of these changes are not clear.
Recent accounts of these new norms have been decidedly negative, describing a "crisis in the kindergarten," with anecdotes about experienced kindergarten teachers opting to resign rather than adapt to what they see as highly inappropriate expectations.
Engaging and challenging academic instruction should (and can) be developmentally appropriate, and it does not have to be overwhelming, stressful, or boring. It does not have to supplant play or child-initiated activities. And it certainly does not have to involve worksheets, one-size-fits-all lessons, or an overemphasis on assessment.
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