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Kindergarten Is the New First Grade
published on 1/21/2016 by Keith A. Howe

Kindergarten is not what it used to be. When we were growing up, kindergarten included plenty of self-directed and creative play. Many have felt that this approach has been changing, and a recent study confirms that it has. The study compared the responses of kindergarten and first grade teachers from two years, 1998 and 2010. In twelve short years, the emphasis on achievement and testing has changed the student experience.

  • In 1998, only 31 percent of teachers felt that kindergarten students should learn to read. In 2010, this number was 80 percent.
  • One third more teachers in 2010 expected children to know the alphabet and know how to hold a pencil before they even began kindergarten.
  • In 2010, 73 percent of kindergartners took some kind of standardized test. One-third took tests at least once a month.
  • Reading and testing is up, but music and art is down. Daily music dropped from 34 percent of teachers to 16 percent. Daily art dropped from 27 percent to 11 percent.
  • There were also notable drops in the numbers of teachers that covered science topics.
  • It is not all bad, however. In a surprising twist, recess is actually up by 9 points.

The statistics in this study don't have to be doom and gloom. It is possible to teach reading in a way that is engaging and creative. It is also possible to teach reading without compromising art, music, and science. This is the basis behind everything that we do at Moving Beyond the Page. High academic standards should go hand-in-hand with high creative standards. They are not mutually exclusive. In your own homeschool, remember that reading is simply a means to an end. We read to make our lives richer and fuller. We read to understand advances in science, and we read to learn about art and to be more creative. Let's not give up on creativity so that our children learn to read just a little bit sooner.

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