Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Disturbing Transformation of Kindergarten by Wendy Lecker

I had to share this article, The Disturbing Transformation of Kindergarten by Wendy Lecker,
because I love it so much. 
It is true. I think it should be read by every single person in charge of 
Curriculum and Instruction in school districts, and then by politicians who are somehow deciding 
what is best for our kindergarten students. We have somehow, over time, forgotten about the 
development of actual children, and replaced it with the development of programs to teach skills. 
I read through the article again to find some of my favorite quotes, and could practically just cut and
paste the entire article in one big quotation mark.  I will try to control myself...  

"One of the most distressing characteristics of education reformers is that they are hyper-focused on how students perform, but they ignore how students learn... There was a marked decline in exposure to social studies, science, music, art and physical education and an increased emphasis on reading instruction. Teachers reported spending as much time on reading as all other subjects combined. "

Teachers see this all the time in the classroom.  There just is not time to expose children to experiences that expand their world, to take those moments to appreciate nature, explore science, social studies, and the arts. We all try to "fit it in" with books about science or a project here and there. We are becoming more and more of a programmed, scripted classroom with the focus on how our children perform certain ELA and math skills. It doesn't matter that children develop at different rates, especially from ages four to six. Somehow, today, if your students don't perform well, it isn't because they are not developmentally ready and need the gift of time, it's because you are not an effective teacher. 

 With that pressure on teachers, the priority becomes the drilling of skills, ready or not, in spite of what we know is most appropriate for children. How sad that we close our doors to let children be children, and play and explore and learn, like somehow it's not right- when in reality it is so right. 

"If we teach reading, writing, subtraction and addition before children are ready, they might memorize these skills, but will they will not learn or understand them. And it will not help their achievement later on. Child development experts understand that children must learn what their brains are ready to absorb. Kindergarten is supposed to set the stage for learning academic content when they are older."

This is one of my favorite quotes, because I see it. My sweet children try SO hard for me to do what they think I want them to do, but I can just see the understanding of the concept is not there yet.  Of course there are the students who are ready and quickly get what's being taught.  They deserve to be taught and challenged at their level as well.  Unfortunately, when so many children do not perform up to "expectations," a teacher's time is spent trying and trying and trying to make those children master skills they are not developmentally ready to master, instead of being able to challenge students ready to do more.   

"Two major studies confirmed the value of play vs. teaching reading skills to young children. Both compared children who learned to read at 5 with those who learned at 7 and spent their early years in play-based activities. Those who read at 5 had no advantage. Those who learned to read later had better comprehension by age 11, because their early play experiences improved their language development."

WOW.  Why aren't these studies valued? Good teachers know this is true. My fear is for new teachers who are being taught to teach skills, often developmentally inappropriate, with direct instruction, from a scripted manual.  I see the frustration of young teachers who try and try and try to get their students to "get it,"  without noticing the child on the other end of the lesson, who needs something different.  I worry that  songs, games, free exploration, and play have become "bad words" in the kindergarten environment.  I wish people who were deciding what was important to teach would actually spend some time learning from real children and seeing what really works.   
"It may satisfy politicians to see children perform inappropriately difficult tasks like trained circus animals. However, if we want our youngest to actually learn, we will demand the return of developmentally appropriate kindergarten."

Amen, Wendy Lecker, Amen!  Thank you for this article. 


  1. Thank you, Carolyn! Couldn't agree more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Well said! Standards have risen in every grade and every state. It makes teaching not fun. Most teachers feel we can't spend time on anything other than putting our faces in a textbook.

  3. I couldn't agree more. Thank goodness I have an admin that lets me do what I feel is right for my kiddos. He is always popping by and will join in on our singing and dancing. The kiddos always think it is so cool. Thanks for posting this!

    Luv My Kinders

  4. This article needs to be circulated over and over again so as many people as possible read it. It speaks to every teacher who is stuck working with administration who somehow forgets what's best for our students. Taking things away like recess, crayons, scissors, glue, construction paper, housekeeping centers (or centers all together), COME ON! Maybe they are trying to ruin education all together to help the Koch brothers and Silicon Valley people take over a field they know nothing about. I don't know, but whole generations of children are stifled and suffering because of it.

  5. I agree with you that there is a fear is for new teachers who are being taught to teach skills, often developmentally inappropriate, with direct instruction, from a scripted manual.


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